Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for June 21, 2019

Newsline: Iran says hunger strike making embassy work in London impossible

The hunger strike by Richard Ratcliffe outside the Iranian embassy in London is making work there impossible and putting pressure on diplomatic staff, Iran’s ambassador to the UK has said. Ratcliffe, the husband of the imprisoned Iranian-British dual national Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, began the protest last weekend and has been visited by a growing number of family members, supporters and politicians, including SNP MPs and Labour’s deputy leader, Tom Watson. Tired but in good spirits and surrounded by flowers and signs, Ratcliffe said on June 20 he would continue at least until the weekend, when he would speak to his wife about the steps she wished him to take next. He said it had been the decision of the Iranians to erect two large corrugated iron barriers in front of the entrance to the embassy opposite Hyde Park. The ambassador, Hamid Baeidinejad, said they were designed to shield staff from being filmed. (https://www.theguardian.com/news/2019/jun/20/richard-ratcliffe-hunger-strike-making-embassy-work-impossible-iran) In an apparent reprisal for the protest, some of the diplomatic protection provided for the British embassy in Tehran has been removed. Zaghari-Ratcliffe is serving a five-year sentence for espionage and is on hunger strike in Tehran in protest at her conditions. Baeidinejad, at a briefing called in part to discuss the growing crisis in the Gulf, said of Ratcliffe: “He is now blocking the entrance of our embassy and the peace of mind of our staff is in complete despair.” He said the door of the embassy was blocked because of the action. “There are media cameras 18-19 hours a day focusing on the entrance of the embassy, so any person going in and leaving is filmed which is totally unacceptable,” he said, adding that all meetings were being cancelled as a result. Baeidinejad said he had raised with the Foreign Office his concern that Ratcliffe’s activities were in breach of article 22 of the Vienna convention, which protects the ordinary daily activities of the embassy.

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Newsline: Tanzania slams US embassy over security alert

Tanzania’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on June 20 warned the US Embassy in Dar es Salaam against issuing alarming alerts without following procedure. In a statement posted on the US embassy’s Twitter account on June 19, 2019, the US warned its citizens to take precautions over rumours of impending attacks in a tourist area in Dar es Salaam. (https://www.theeastafrican.co.ke/news/ea/Tanzania-slams-US-embassy/4552908-5166252-599rf6/index.html) On June 20 evening, Tanzania’s Foreign Affairs ministry issued a statement saying permanent secretary Dr Faraji Kasidi Mnyepe held consultations with Ms Janine Young, a representative of the US ambassador, over the alert. According to the statement, the US diplomat was summoned to explain the alert. Tanzania says the security alert was issued without following the correct procedure, and claimed that it was targeted at the general public and not US citizens only.