Diplomatic Briefing

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Newsline: South Korean Embassy in Beijing issues travel advisory over North Korea’s rocket launch

The South Korean Embassy in Beijing issued a travel advisory Tuesday, warning South Korean citizens to be cautious in visiting China and its border regions with North Korea after the North’s long-range rocket launch. “To cope with the possibility of instability on the Korean Peninsula after North Korea’s missile launch, those who are visiting China or living in China should be mindful of their safety,” the South Korean Embassy said in a statement. The embassy is closely cooperating with Chinese authorities to ensure the safety of South Korean citizens, the statement said. Tensions mounted as North Korea launched a long-range rocket Sunday in defiance of U.N. resolutions amid international condemnation over its latest nuclear test last month.


Newsline: Kurdish protest outside Turkey’s Embassy turns violent in Paris

Clashes have erupted outside the Turkish Embassy in Paris after police moved in to disperse a demonstration by Kurdish political activists. Dozens had gathered to protest the Turkish government’s military campaign against Kurdish militants in the southeast of the country. Local Kurdish media report at least 60 members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, died in the most recent assault. Demonstrators pelted a police vehicle with stones and police fired tear gas to break up the protest. Turkey also began launching airstrikes in Iraq and Syria in July 2015. In Syria it has targeted the IS group, while in Iraq it has taken aim at the PKK, which has waged a decades-long insurgency against Ankara.


Newsline: North Korean embassy in Moscow pledges to continue launching satellites

North Korea intends to continue to launch rockets carrying satellites into space, Russia’s Interfax news agency quoted the North Korean embassy in Moscow as saying in a statement. “The state agency on space exploration, following the policy of the Workers’ Party of Korea on giving priority to science and technology, will continue to launch more man-made satellites,” the embassy said in a statement, according to Interfax.


Newsline: No Immunity for UN Diplomat in US Bribe Case

A federal judge refused to hand a diplomat the “get out of jail free card” of immunity for his alleged role in a $1.3 million bribery scheme involving a Chinese billionaire and former U.N. president. Francis Lorenzo, the deputy permanent representative for the United Nations to the Dominican Republic, faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted in connection with a massive corruption probe that led to charges against him and five others. At the center of the allegations are Chinese real estate mogul Ng Lap Seng and fellow diplomat John Ashe, a 61-year-old who had served as president of the 68th session of the U.N. General Assembly. Lorenzo, Ashe, Ng, and Ng’s assistant John Yin have pleaded not guilty to the charges. Lorenzo, who claims dual citizenship in the United States and the Domenican Republic, asserted that his status entitles him to diplomatic immunity from prosecution. U.S. District Judge Vernon Broderick rejected that position in a scathing 11-page opinion. “Lorenzo does not identify, and I have not found, any case in which a United States citizen who is also a citizen of another country has been granted diplomatic immunity,” he noted.


Newsline: Dozens mourn slain Italian student at Cairo embassy

Dozens of people gathered at the Italian embassy in Cairo to mourn the Italian student Giulio Regeni, whose body was found half naked at a roadside with what a senior Egyptian prosecutor has said were cigarette burns and other signs of torture. Regeni, a Cambridge University doctoral student, went missing in Cairo on Jan. 25, the fifth anniversary of the uprising that ended Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule. His body was found on Wednesday. He had disappeared after leaving home in a smart district of Cairo to meet a friend, according to another friend. His research had focused on trade unions in Egypt after the 2011 uprising and he had also written articles critical of the Egyptian government under a pseudonym, according to the Italian newspaper that published them. A group of about 50 people including friends and Egyptian political activists gathered in front of the embassy on Saturday, laying flowers and lighting candles. Regeni’s body had been flown to Rome earlier on Saturday, Egyptian officials at Cairo airport told state news agency MENA. Il Manifesto, a left-wing newspaper based in Rome, published Regeni’s final article on Friday, describing difficulties faced by independent unions in Egypt under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. On Thursday, the Italian Foreign Ministry summoned the Egyptian ambassador to express concern about the student’s death, and Prime Minister Matteo Renzi telephoned Sisi, asking for a joint investigation and the swift return of his body to Italy.


Newsline: UK press takes swipe at Assange still holed up in Ecuador’s London embassy

Newspaper columnists on Saturday took aim at Julian Assange and the UN panel that found the anti-secrecy campaigner had been “arbitrarily detained”. The WikiLeaks founder, who faces a rape allegation in Sweden, urged Britain to let him walk free from Ecuador’s London embassy following the panel’s findings Friday. The 44-year-old Australian, who has been in the embassy for approaching four years, has refused to go to Sweden, fearing deportation to the United States over WikiLeaks’ release of 500,000 secret military files. “So that settles it then — everyone’s to blame except Julian Assange,” wrote Marina Hyde in The Guardian. “It is notable with Assange that the higher he has gone in his ‘quest for justice’, the smaller he has looked,” she wrote. Siobhan Fenton wrote in The Independent: “We have no idea if Julian Assange is a rapist — so why are we are so opposed to finding out?” The Daily Telegraph’s story said the United Nations had been ridiculed over the findings of its experts. The Times said the UN panel had also accused Ecuador of routine torture and arbitrary detention. The Sun’s headline said: “How dare they? Fury as UN panel demands Britain pay Julian Assange compo (compensation) after he hid from justice for three years.”


Newsline: Assange ‘arbitrarily detained’ in Ecuador’s London embassy

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange Friday urged Britain and Sweden to let him walk free from Ecuador’s embassy in London. But according to a lawyer, Assange will remain at Ecuador’s Embassy in London as long as there is a risk he will be detained and extradited to the US. Assange’s three-and-a-half-year stay in the Ecuadorian embassy in London to avoid rape investigation in Sweden amounts to ‘arbitrary detention’, a United Nations panel ruled on Friday. Assange had said earlier in a short message on Twitter that he would have left the embassy if the UN panel had ruled against him. “(But) should I prevail and the state parties be found to have acted unlawfully, I expect the immediate return of my passport and the termination of further attempts to arrest me,” Assange, 44, said. Britain said it had never arbitrarily detained Assange and that the Australian had voluntarily avoided arrest by jumping bail to flee to the embassy. Britain rejected a UN panel’s ruling on Friday and said Assange will be arrested if he leaves his cramped quarters at the embassy and then extradited to Sweden.



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