Diplomatic Briefing

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Newsline: US Diplomatic Security Service Returns ‘Most Wanted’ Fugitive from Thailand

Special Agents from the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) located and assisted in the apprehension of U.S. fugitive Gregory Richard Swarn on November 7, 2014 in Pattaya, Thailand. In September 2014, DSS began investigating Swarn for possible passport fraud based on information provided by the FBI. As a result of DSS’s investigation, a warrant for Swarn’s arrest was issued on October 3, 2014. After discovering that Swarn was residing in Thailand, DSS agents worked with Thai authorities to locate and apprehend him. Swarn was deported from Thailand on November 14 and escorted back to the United States by DSS agents, who handed him over to the U.S. Marshals Service upon arrival. Swarn had previously been designated one of DSS’s most wanted fugitives. The Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) is the law enforcement and security arm of the U.S. Department of State. It bears the core responsibility for providing a safe environment for the conduct of American diplomacy. DS is the most widely represented U.S. law enforcement and security organization in the world and protects people, property, and information at 285 State Department missions around the globe.


Newsline: Emblem from Spanish embassy in Delhi stolen

Delhi Police registered a case against two unidentified youth for allegedly stealing the Spanish national emblem from outside the embassy’s front door. An FIR was registered on the complaint of the officials from the Embassy of Spain. “The incident took place on Wednesday night when two youth stole the National Emblem of Spain made of metal, from the front door of the chancery in the embassy around 11 PM. The theft was recorded in the CCTV camera installed at the embassy’s front door which has been handed over to the police. “They later returned again after probably one hour to steal another emblem from the other side of the gate but this time the guard heard the sound and they fled,” said a police official. The two youth seem to be vagabonds, we are trying to identify them and arrest them, the official said.


Newsline: Assange welcome in Ecuador embassy ‘as long as necessary’

Ecuador Friday guaranteed political asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for “as long as necessary,” one day after he lost an appeal against a Swedish warrant for his arrest. Assange, who has been holed up in the Ecuador embassy in London for two years to avoid extradition to Sweden, is wanted for questioning there over alleged sex crimes. On Thursday he lost his claim that the detention order be set aside. Quito reiterates “that the asylum granted to Julian Assange is valid and reaffirms its intention to continue protecting him as long as necessary, until he is in a safe place,” Ecuador’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement. Swedish prosecutors want to question Assange about accusations of rape and sexual molestation brought against him by two women in their 30s when he visited the country in 2010. He denies the claims. Assange had called on Swedish prosecutors to travel to London to question him or, alternatively, to do so by video link, but the appeal court rejected the demand. “Ecuador maintains its proposal for Swedish officials to question Julian Assange in its embassy in London or use videoconferencing means,” the ministry reiterated.


Newsline: US Embassy Warns Citizens to Avoid Mexican Resort of Acapulco

The U.S. Embassy in Mexico issued a security message warning U.S. citizens to avoid the Pacific resort of Acapulco because of violence and protests. In yet another blow to a coastal city once favored by U.S. movie stars and jet-setters in the 1950s and ’60s, the embassy said its personnel “have been instructed to defer non-essential travel to Acapulco, by air or land,” and added that it “cautions U.S. citizens to follow the same guidelines.” The alert noted that “protests and violent incidents continue in Guerrero state in response to the disappearance of 43 students there.”


Newsline: Eavesdropping on Pakistani official led to investigation against US diplomat

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) started a probe against former diplomat Robin L Raphel after American investigators intercepted a conversation this year in which a Pakistani official suggested that his government was receiving American secrets from a prominent former State Department diplomat, New York Times reported. A US State Department expert on Pakistan, Robin was stripped of her security clearance and made part of a federal counterintelligence investigation recently. The investigation that shocked diplomatic circles was conducted after months of secret surveillance on the former diplomat following the conversation. The NYT report quotes senior American officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The officials said agents discovered classified information during an FBI raid last month at Robin’s Northwest Washington home. Raphel is the former wife of US ambassador Arnold Raphel who was killed aboard a plane carrying Ziaul Haq in 1988 and has been a longtime South Asian expert and also worked as State Department adviser on civilian assistance for Pakistan. Raphel has not been charged with a crime. The scope of the investigation is not known, and it is unclear exactly what the Pakistani official said in the intercepted conversation that led to suspicion about Robin, the NYT report said. It is also not clear whether the conversation was by telephone, email or some other form of communication.


Newsline: Former Malaysian diplomat pleads not guilty to sex, burglary charges in New Zealand

A former Malaysian diplomat accused of sexually assaulting a Wellington woman has pleaded not guilty in Wellington District Court this morning. Muhammad Rizalman bin Ismail is charged with assault with intent to rape and burglary. Rizalman left the country under diplomatic immunity over five months ago and due to a mix-up by New Zealand’s foreign affairs ministry over the diplomat’s departure, the ministry was forced to request his extradition. The complainant, Wellington woman Tania Billingsley, voluntarily surrendered her right to name suppression in order to publicly criticise Foreign Minister Murray McCully’s handling of the case. Rizalman has elected for a trial by jury and will next appear in court on February 19.


Newsline: Israel ambassador to make Sweden return

Isaac Bachman will come back to Stockholm on November 29th stating that it was a “compromise” when he was recalled to Israel following Sweden’s decision to recognize Palestine. In a statement on the Israeli embassy website Bachman said the date of his intended return to Swedish shores was significant. Last month the new Swedish government sparked a diplomatic crisis when it officially decided to recognize Palestine. Following the announcement, Israel recalled Bachman back to Jerusalem for crunch talks. He said that the decision to recognize Palestine was “premature and counterproductive.” Sweden’s ambassador to Israel, Magnus Nesser, said he was very keen for Bachman to return to Stockholm, stating that both nations have a long relationship. Meanwhile Sweden’s Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom has defended the decision to recognize Palestine saying in parliament that it was “right, right, right.”



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