Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for January 28, 2012

Newsline: US Embassy says citizen kidnapped in Nigeria freed

A U.S. citizen kidnapped by gunmen in Nigeria’s oil-rich southern delta has been freed after a week in captivity, the U.S. Embassy said. U.S. Embassy spokeswoman Deb MacLean told The Associated Press on Friday that the man had been released after being kidnapped in Warri in Delta state on Jan. 20. MacLean declined to offer any other details, citing privacy rules. Delta state police spokesman Charles Muka said he had not been informed about the man’s release, as his company refused to cooperate with local authorities. The freed hostage was identified as William Gregory Ock, 50, of Bowdon, Georgia, by his sister, Dee Dee Patterson. It was not immediately clear whether a ransom had been paid to secure his release, though many companies working in the region carry kidnap insurance and simply pay a negotiated price to see their employees freed. Kidnappers had made contact with authorities previously and demanded a $333,000 ransom. In 2011, there were five reported kidnappings of U.S. citizens in Nigeria, according to a recent U.S. State Department travel warning about the country. The most recent occurred in November when two U.S. citizens and a Mexican were kidnapped from a Chevron Corp. offshore oil field and held for about two weeks, the State Department said.



Newsline: Sale of Pakistan embassy building in Jakarta

While hearing a contempt petition on Monday, the Lahore Hight Court sought replies from the National Accountability Bureau, Rawalpindi, to explain its failure in holding an inquiry into an alleged embezzlement case. The contempt petition was filed against NAB for not probing the alleged embezzlement in the illegal sales of properties of Pakistani embassies in Japan and Indonesia. Justice Umar Ata Bandial directed the chairman and director general of NAB, Rawalpindi, to file their replies till February 22. Dr Qaiser Rashid moved the petition, alleging that NAB authorities failed to conduct an inquiry into the alleged embezzlement, in violation of the court’s order. In his previous petition, Rashid had submitted that a local newspaper published a news item on April 28, 2010, claiming that former president Pervez Musharraf sold gifted property ‘for peanuts’. According to the report, on February 18, 2002 former ambassador to Indonesia Maj Gen (retd) Mustafa Anwar misused his authority by selling the buildings of the embassy and residence of the ambassador at throwaway prices, fetching huge financial kickbacks from the deal. The property had been gifted by then Indonesian president Soekarno to Pakistan but was sold under the pretext of a directive issued by then chief executive Musharraf. The deal was concluded through a company, owned by the ambassador’s Indonesian wife. The petitioner alleged that the property was sold at a throwaway price to give benefit to a Japanese company Nomura Real Estate, and in return the embassy staff received kickbacks.