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Archive for Sri Lanka

Newsline: Swiss embassy employee in Sri Lanka granted bail

A court in Sri Lanka has granted bail to a Swiss embassy staff member who had been arrested two weeks ago on charges that she stoked anti-government sentiment and fabricated evidence, local media reported. The local television channel Sirasa reported her release, according to the Associated Press. The employee, a Sri Lankan national, claimed that she had been abducted on November 25 and threatened by her captors in an alleged effort to get her to disclose “embassy-related information”. (https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/diplomatic-spat—-_swiss-embassy-employee-in-sri-lanka-granted-bail/45463886) The incident took place a day after a senior Sri Lankan police officer arrived in Switzerland to apply for asylum. The Swiss government condemned the alleged attack as “unacceptable” and summoned the Sri Lankan ambassador. The Sri Lankan authorities have said they have evidence that contradicts the woman’s version of events. Prior to her arrest, a court blocked her from leaving the country. Upon her detention, Swiss diplomats appealed for her transfer to a hospital on health and humanitarian grounds. The Swiss foreign ministry also announced it would dispatch a Swiss diplomat, Jörg Frieden, to Colombo in a bid to break the diplomatic deadlock.

Newsline: Sri Lanka president says he is ‘victim’ of Swiss kidnap claim

Sri Lanka’s President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said Thursday the alleged kidnapping of a Swiss embassy staffer which triggered a diplomatic spat between Colombo and Bern had been concocted to discredit his election victory. (https://news.yahoo.com/sri-lanka-president-says-victim-swiss-kidnap-claim-130938877.html) A Sri Lankan national working for the Swiss mission in Colombo was arrested Monday for allegedly falsely claiming she had been abducted and sexually assaulted by unidentified attackers on November 25. The alleged abduction happened a day after a Sri Lankan police inspector investigating cases involving the Rajapaksa family sought asylum in Switzerland. Gotabaya Rajapaksa — who was elected president last month — told Colombo-based foreign correspondents Thursday that he was the real “victim” of the saga. “In this case, the victim is me because immediately after my election, this story came up,” he said, giving details of the Swiss embassy staffer’s movements on the day she claimed she was held against her will. “It is very clear it is a planned thing to discredit me and the government.” Rajapaksa said he did not believe the Swiss embassy itself had any role in making the allegations, and insisted he did not want anyone to create tensions between the two countries. Switzerland on Monday criticised the embassy worker’s arrest and “lack of due process in the case”, and asked for evidence that she had faked her claims. Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis also spoke to his Sri Lankan counterpart Dinesh Gunawardena about the case on Wednesday, his ministry said. Cassis informed Gunawardena that Bern had sent an experienced diplomat, Jorg Frieden, to oversee the efforts to clarify the facts and resolve the situation, the foreign ministry said in a statement.

Newsline: Swiss raise alarm over ‘attack’ on Sri Lanka embassy employee

Swiss authorities have hit out at the detention of an employee of the country’s embassy in Sri Lanka, branding the development “grave and unacceptable”. A spokesman for Switzerland’s Department of Foreign Affairs said in a statement on Wednesday that the embassy employee was “detained against her will on the street and threatened at length” in an attempt to pressure her into releasing information. “Switzerland views the incident as a very grave and unacceptable attack on one of its diplomatic missions and their employees,” the spokesman said. (https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/11/swiss-raise-alarm-attack-sri-lanka-embassy-employee-191128061621424.html) Switzerland reported the incident to Sri Lankan authorities, the spokesman added, and have called on them to launch an investigation into it. Sri Lanka’s ambassador to Switzerland was meanwhile, summoned to the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Newsline: Ambassador says US had no prior knowledge of Sri Lanka threat

The U.S. had no prior knowledge of the Easter bombings in Sri Lanka that killed over 350 people, the American ambassador said Apr. 24, despite local claims that foreign officials had been warned an attack was looming. As the investigation into the Islamic State-claimed attack continues, FBI agents and U.S. military personnel are in Sri Lanka assisting the probe, Ambassador Alaina Teplitz said. While declining to say whether U.S. officials had intelligence on the local extremists and their leader who allegedly carried out the assault, Teplitz said America remained concerned over militants at large. She also said that “clearly there was some failure in the system” that caused Sri Lankan officials to fail to share the warnings they received prior to the attack. (https://www.kansas.com/news/nation-world/article229616629.html) “I can tell you definitively we were not warned and we did not have any prior knowledge of this,” Teplitz told foreign journalists from her office at the U.S. Embassy in Colombo. “We did not know because believe me, if we had, we would have tried to do something about it.”

Newsline: US Embassy says FBI assisting Sri Lankan government with bombing investigation

The U.S. Embassy in Sri Lanka said early on Apr. 24 that FBI agents are inside the country to assist the in the investigation into the Easter Sunday bombings that killed more than 350 people. The FBI’s arrival comes a day after a Sri Lankan defense minister, citing a “preliminary investigation,” said the attack was carried out by Islamic extremists in retaliation for the New Zealand mosque attacks that killed 50 people last month. (https://www.foxnews.com/world/us-embassy-fbi-assisting-sri-lankan-government-with-investigation-of-easter-bombings) The FBI’s assistance was part of the support extended by President Trump, the embassy said. The embassy did not immediately elaborate. Police said the death toll has risen to 359 and more suspects have been arrested. Sri Lankan officials have blamed the domestic militant group National Thowfeek Jamaath for the bombings and authorities revealed the little-known outfit likely received assistance in carrying out the horrific plot.

Newsline: Foreign ministry calls on Belgians in Sri Lanka to make themselves known

The Belgian ministry for foreign affairs has sent out a message to the Belgian citizens currently in Sri Lanka to get in touch to determine whether any was involved in the wave of explosions which took place on Sunday, cause more than 150 deaths and many more injuries. Posting on Twitter, the ministry wrote (in English): “Several blasts have been reported in Sri Lanka. If you are a Belgian citizen residing or travelling in Sri Lanka please inform the Embassy of Belgium in New Delhi that you are safe on 0091 98 10117931 or newdelhi@diplobel.fed.be.” (http://brusselstimes.com/world/15106/foreign-ministry-calls-on-belgians-in-sri-lanka-to-make-themselves-known) The six attacks targetted three hotels and three churches. The situation at the time of writing is still unclear, but local sources put the number of deaths at 156, including at least 35 foreigners, with at least 400 people injured. Those numbers could of course change as time goes by and more information becomes clear. Three hotels were hit in the capital, Colombo, including the Cinnamon Grand Hotel, situated close to the prime minister’s residence. The other explosions took place at the Shangri La and the Kingsbury. Foreign affairs minister Didier Reynders posted two messages on his own Twitter account. “The foreign ministry is contacting Belgians living or travelling in Sri Lanka to see if they are safe or require assistance. We are also in touch the local authorities to obtain information on any foreign casualties.” In another message he said he was “very saddened and shocked”.

Newsline: Russian embassy warns against visiting Maldives

The Russian Embassy in Sri Lanka has recommended Russians to refrain from visiting the Maldives because of unrest in that country, the embassy’s Consular Department whose area of responsibility includes the Maldives told TASS on Tuesday. “A signal has been sent to Moscow with recommendations to refrain from travelling to the Maldives in connection with certain unrest at the political level,” the embassy said. “To date, there have been no obvious threats, but there are preconditions for that.” On February 5, Maldivian President Abdullah Yamin declared a 15-day state of emergency in the country.

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