Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for Germany

Newsline: Iranian diplomat in Austria held over Paris bomb plot

Austria is preparing to strip the diplomatic immunity from an Iranian envoy suspected of planning to bomb Iranian politicians in France. The diplomat and two other arrested people are suspected of plotting to attack a meeting of exiled opposition members in Paris last weekend. Tehran denies any involvement. The diplomatic tension comes a day before President Hassan Rouhani is due to arrive in Austria to discuss a disputed nuclear deal. Two Belgian nationals apprehended in Brussels are reported to be husband and wife, and to be of Iranian origin. The Iranian diplomat, identified as Assadollah A, is ordinarily based in the Austrian capital. But he was arrested in Germany.



Newsline: Central African Republic minister claims Boris Becker is ‘not our diplomat’

Boris Becker has been given more time to prove his diplomatic immunity from bankruptcy after Central African Republic officials both confirmed and rejected the claim. The former world tennis number one says he cannot be taken to court because of his appointment as the country’s attache for sports and cultural affairs in the European Union in April. CAR foreign minister Charles Armel Doubane said on that he had never signed a document giving the three-time Wimbledon champion official diplomatic status. “Boris Becker is not an official diplomat of Central African Republic,” he said. “The President never asked me to take the appropriate steps in the case of Boris Becker.” Only hours earlier the CAR embassy in Brussels had confirmed Mr Becker was one of its diplomats.


Newsline: ‘Ambassador Boris Becker’ aces creditors by claiming diplomatic immunity

Boris Becker has declared himself a diplomat for a small African country in a bid to stop creditors chasing him for millions in debts. The three-time Wimbledon tennis champion was declared bankrupt last summer and earlier this year launched an appeal to find his missing trophies to try to pay off £54 million of debts. The German is due to be one of the BBC’s commentators when the Wimbledon tennis championships start in a fortnight’s time. Now his lawyers have told the High Court that Becker quietly became a “sporting, cultural and humanitarian affairs” attache for the Central African Republic on April 27. A defiant Becker said last night he was “immensely proud” of his new role – and attacked the “bunch of anonymous and unaccountable bankers and bureaucrats” chasing him for money. According to the 1961 Vienna Convention, he cannot be subject to legal process in the courts of any country for so long as he remains a recognised diplomatic agent. He cannot be sued for the cash without the consent of the Central African Republic, while legal claims can only be served on him through diplomatic channels. Any legal action would require the agreement of Boris Johnson, the British Foreign Secretary, as well as the Central African Republic’s foreign minister. Experts said that anyone could become a foreign diplomat if invited to do so by the country. Becker’s decision to become a diplomat could mean that none of the money he is expected to receive for commentating for the BBC at Wimbledon will go to his creditors.


Newsline: State Department defends ambassador to Germany after controversial remarks

The State Department defended U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell on Tuesday after he stoked controversy in Germany by saying he wanted to “empower” conservatives overseas. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters in a press briefing that Grenell “was merely highlighting that there are some parties and candidates in Europe who are doing well right now.” “We’re not supporting any political party. That’s not what we do,” Nauert clarified. “We support democracy, we support countries figuring out for themselves who they want to vote in for office.” Grenell’s comments, made in an interview with the conservative website Breitbart News, were highly unusual as American diplomats rarely, if ever, weigh in on the domestic politics of the countries where they are posted. The comments drew a furious response from many Europeans and prompted the German Foreign Ministry to request a clarification of his remarks. “What this man is doing, is unheard of in international diplomacy,” Martin Schulz, the former head of Germany’s Social Democratic Party, told national news agency DPA. “If a German ambassador were to say in Washington that he is there to boost the Democrats, he would have been kicked out immediately.” Grenell, a former United Nations spokesman and Fox News contributor who took office last month, also decried, during the Breitbart interview, what he called the “failed policies of the left,” and he credited President Trump with empowering people across the world to take on the “political class.”


Newsline: Ukrainian diplomat in Germany suspended over anti-Semitic posts

A Ukrainian diplomat in Germany has been suspended and could be recalled, Ukraine’s foreign ministry said, following reports the consul had posted anti-Semitic content on social media. Screenshots shared online claim to show Vasyl Marushchynets, who works at Ukraine’s consulate in Hamburg, blaming Jews for World War II and saying “death to the anti-fascists” on his private Facebook page.


Newsline: US Embassy in Germany pays for professor who compared Trump to ISIS

Officials at the U.S. Embassy in Germany hired a professor for a speaking engagement who once compared President Trump’s rhetoric to that of the Islamic State. It’s a move some lawmakers say is what you get when ambassador appointments aren’t properly confirmed and deployed around the world. “Germany is a very important partner to the United States,” Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., told Fox News. “It’s hard to believe that the U.S. Embassy would invite someone who wrote those things about the president to speak.” The professor in question — Arie Kruglanski, who co-founded the National Center for the Study of Terrorism and the Response to Terrorism — wrote in December 2015 that both Trump and ISIS “exploit the fear and uncertainty so prevalent in the world today and skillfully cultivate it.”


Newsline: German Police Arrest Suspected Mastermind in Russian Embassy Cocaine Scandal

German police have arrested the suspected mastermind of a busted drug smuggling operation that reportedly ran hundreds of kilograms of cocaine from South America to Moscow on a Russian presidential plane. Six people were arrested after nearly 400 kilograms of cocaine were discovered at the Russian Embassy school grounds in Buenos Aires, authorities said last week. The man who allegedly supplied the drugs, initially identified as “Mr. K” and later named as Andrei Kovalchuk, was reported to be in hiding in Germany after the story broke. “His wife called me and said that Kovalchuk was detained as part of the criminal case on narcotics,” Interfax cited Kovalchuk’s lawyer Vladimir Zherebenkov as saying Friday. “As expected, the police intend to go to court for his arrest,” he added. An unnamed Russian law enforcement official told the Rosbalt news agency on Monday that Kovulchuk had previously been employed as a staff member at the Russian Embassy in Berlin. Russia’s Foreign Ministry released a statement Tuesday denying that Kovalchuk was ever employed by Russia’s diplomatic missions in Germany and “in general never worked for the Foreign Ministry.” Before his arrest, Kovalchuk claimed that he had been set-up in a “well-organized provocation” by American authorities, saying that his Argentinian suitcases with coffee, cigars and alcohol had been replaced by cocaine.