Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for June 6, 2019

Newsline: The EU’s Embassy In Russia Was Hacked But The EU Kept It A Secret

The European Union’s embassy in Moscow was hacked and had information stolen from its network, according to a leaked internal document seen by BuzzFeed News. An ongoing “sophisticated cyber espionage event” was discovered in April, just weeks before the European Parliament elections — but the European External Action Service (EEAS), the EU’s foreign and security policy agency, did not disclose the incident publicly. (https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/albertonardelli/eu-embassy-moscow-hack-russia) Russian entities are believed to be behind the hack, a source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told BuzzFeed News. The EEAS confirmed an incident had taken place and, asked whether the EU’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini knew about the incident, said that EEAS hierarchy had been informed. “We have observed potential signs of compromised systems connected to our unclassified network in our Moscow Delegation. Measures have been taken and the investigation is in progress — at this stage we cannot comment further,” a spokesperson said. According to the leaked document, the initial attack took place in February 2017, but it was only detected in April this year. An analysis of the hack found activity affecting at least two computers and concluded that information had been stolen.

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Newsline: Venezuelan opposition sets up rival embassy in Geneva restaurant

Venezuela’s political crisis is also having repercussions in Switzerland, where two rival embassies – in Bern and Geneva – claim to represent the official voice of the troubled South American country. The Venezuelan embassy in Bern is the longstanding official diplomatic mission of the Caracas authorities, under the control of President Nicolás Maduro. However, a small Venezuelan restaurant in Geneva, the main meeting point of Maduro’s opponents in Switzerland, has effectively become a rival embassy, under the authority of the self-proclaimed interim President Juan Guaidó. In Switzerland, two ambassadors each claim to be the legitimate diplomatic representative of Venezuela. Guaidó appointed Maria-Alejandra Aristeguieta, a former United Nations diplomat and anti-Maduro activist, to represent him in Switzerland. (https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/diplomatic-tussle_venezuelan-opposition-sets-up-rival-embassy-in-geneva-restaurant/45011138) She has been working on her own out of the Geneva restaurant to establish as many contacts as possible with the authorities and powers in Switzerland. Experienced ambassador César Osvelio Méndez González works in Bern. His message is simple: President Maduro’s power is strong, as is the Venezuelan embassy in Switzerland.