Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for North America

Newsline: Police ramp up security at Israeli and US embassies in Cyprus

The Cyprus Police are taking additional measures for the protection of the US embassy in Nicosia. The measures are in place following the U.S. military campaign in Iraq, reports the Cyprus News Agency. The report also stated that increased security measures are being taken at the Israeli embassy as well due to the situation in the Gaza strip. Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides told Sky News that US ally Britain would have to consult with him ahead of any airstrike in Iraq through the RAF base in Akrotiri. The Minister appeared certain that Nicosia would “not object to the use of the British Bases for any military operation against a terrorist organisation like this one which is the worst kind that we have ever met.”


Newsline: Rally Outside US Embassy in Moscow Condemns Ferguson Shooting

Russian and foreign students gathered Wednesday in front of the US Embassy in Moscow, demanding punishment for those responsible for the police killing of a young African-American man in Ferguson, Missouri. “We are outraged by this human rights violation. Over 150 students knelt and raised their hands in front of the embassy, assuming the position the unarmed African-American teenager was supposedly in when he was fatally shot by a white police officer on August 9. The victim, 18-year-old Michael Brown, was unarmed and had no criminal record. The students also asked for US authorities to actively address human rights issues in their own country. Brown’s murder has sparked major protests in the city of Ferguson, a predominantly African-American suburb of St. Louis.


Newsline: Mexico calls 2012 attack on U.S. Embassy vehicle a ‘crass error’

A 2012 incident in which Mexican federal police raked an armored U.S. Embassy vehicle with gunfire was the result of a “crass error” in judgment by the officers but was not an ambush ordered by organized crime, the nation’s top security czar said. In the Aug. 24, 2012, incident, federal police attacked a U.S. Embassy vehicle, riddling it with at least 152 rounds of assault weapons fire in what U.S. diplomats later termed an “ambush.” The attack occurred along a mountain road southwest of the capital. Speaking with foreign reporters, National Security Commissioner Monte Alejandro Rubido said the jailing of 14 former federal police following the incident was proof that Mexico did not sweep the shooting under the rug. Rubido said the federal police in unmarked cars were patrolling an area near the hamlet of Tres Marias, where they had broken up a kidnapping ring a day earlier. “Suddenly they saw a vehicle with characteristics unusual for that region. They ordered it to stop. They were not in uniform because they were conducting an investigation,” Rubido said. “When the driver of the vehicle saw that armed people were ordering him to halt, he fled. But in a crass error, a crass error, the police began to shoot at the vehicle assuming that criminals were inside,” Rubido said. The gray Toyota SUV had visible front and rear diplomatic license plates, and the attack occurred in daylight. Inside were two U.S. officials, identified in U.S. and Mexican media reports as CIA employees, and a Mexican naval officer. All three men were injured in the attack. A separate unit of federal police arrived to defend the victims. The two Americans were hastily evacuated from Mexico. Rubido acknowledged that suspicions arose that the federal police unit was working for organized crime active in mountainous Morelos state, known for drug trafficking and kidnapping groups. “A deep investigation was conducted into why the police acted this way,” Rubido said, and “the overwhelming conclusion” was that the federal police were not linked to any organized crime group. Since the police used what Rubido termed as “excessive force,” the men are now in jail awaiting trial on that charge. None have yet been convicted, he said. “There are 14 police in prison, so you can see that there is no type of tolerance for this,” Rubido said. A U.S. Embassy spokesman offered no immediate response to Rubido’s remarks on the 2012 incident.


Newsline: Accidental US Embassy Shooting in Jordan Wounds 2

An accidental shooting at the U.S. Embassy in Jordan wounded two local guards, authorities said. Jordanian police spokesman Amer al-Sartawi said the shooting wounded one guard in the hand and the other in the leg. He described the shooting as an accident, but did not elaborate. Edgar Vasquez, a spokesman for the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, said the incident happened as guards were moving between vehicles outside of the embassy. “A gendarmerie officer’s weapon accidentally discharged inside the vehicle, injuring two officers,” Vasquez said. “We understand the incident has been ruled an accident and the government’s investigation has been closed.”


Newsline: UK ambassador ‘lobbied senators to hide Diego Garcia role

Logs released under the Freedom of Information Act have reinforced claims that the UK lobbied to keep its role in the CIA’s torture and interrogation programme out of what is expected to be a damning Senate report. They show that the UK ambassador to the US met members of the Senate select committee on intelligence 11 times between 2012 and 2014 – as they were investigating the CIA’s rendition programme. This included two meetings with the committee’s chair, Diane Feinstein, which took place as crucial decisions were being made regarding how much of its report into the programme should be made public. The revelation has prompted fresh concern that the government lobbied for key parts of the report referring to Diego Garcia, a British territory in the Indian Ocean leased to the US as a military base, to be redacted. Human rights groups believe that the territory played a key role in facilitating the CIA’s extraordinary rendition programme – the movement of high-value terrorist suspects to “black sites” around the world without legal oversight. The US authorities have confirmed only that the territory was used for two refuelling stops. But there are suspicions Diego Garcia has played a more extensive role than the US has so far admitted, raising questions about when and what the UK knew about its use.


Newsline: US diplomat denies alliance will drag Australia into war with China

The US alliance will not drag Australia into war with China, says the top US diplomat for Asia. Assistant Secretary for East Asia at the State Department Daniel Russel rejected the assertion by former prime minister Malcolm Fraser that Australia was so locked into the US system that it would have no option but to join any American war with China. To the contrary, Mr Russel said America’s strong engagement across the region and its push-back against Chinese misbehaviour has substantially reduced the risk of military conflict. Mr Russel was speaking after top-level Ausmin security meetings that opened the door to the integration of Australian and US ballistic missile defence systems, additional US ship visits to Perth and increased use of a Northern Territory bombing range by the US Air Force. He said the US remained overwhelmingly committed to the Asian region even as the Obama administration was prosecuting air strikes in Iraq and coming under pressure to intervene to curb a worsening band of disorder that now stretches from Libya to Ukraine. Mr Russel’s strongest comments were in response to Mr Fraser’s view that the US-Australia alliance is a Cold War anachronism that denies Australia the strategic room to opt out of any war against China.


Newsline: Chinese embassy staffer nabbed drunk driving in Canada

A member of the Chinese diplomatic corps must leave Canada or face arrest after he was nabbed for drunk driving. The Chinese government has not provided a certificate of diplomatic immunity for Teng Zhou, 25, and a bench warrant was issued for his arrest on Thursday. Zhou, who is described on a Quebec government website as a Chinese government attache, was stopped near Rideau and Charlotte streets at 11:50 p.m. on June 14, Ottawa police said. He was charged with impaired driving, refusing to provide a breath sample and resisting arrest, although the resisting arrest rap was later dropped. On Thursday, Crown attorney Vikki Bair told the court a certificate of immunity had not materialized and she requested the justice of the peace issue a bench warrant. Zhou had not show up to court for the scheduled appearance. The embassy had not returned requests for comment.



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