Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for Italy

Newsline: Italy to return ambassador to Cairo, ending standoff over murdered student

Italy said it would return its ambassador to Cairo more than a year after the murder of an Italian graduate student led the Rome government to recall its previous envoy. Giulio Regeni was 28 when he vanished from the streets of Cairo in January 2016. His body was discovered in a ditch on the outskirts of the Egyptian capital on Feb. 3, showing signs of extensive torture. Italy recalled its ambassador in April 2016 as it sought to obtain evidence from Egypt to solve the murder. Magistrates in Rome and Cairo have met a half-dozen times over the past year, but no one has been charged. “The Italian government’s commitment remains to clarify the tragic disappearance of Giulio,” Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano said in a statement. “Sending an authoritative liaison (ambassador) will help, through contacts with the Egyptian authorities, reinforce judicial cooperation and as a consequence the search for the truth,” Alfano said. Regeni, who had been looking into Egypt’s independent unions for his doctorate thesis at Cambridge, attracted the suspicion of the Cairo government before his disappearance, sources told Reuters last year. Security and intelligence sources told Reuters that Regeni had been arrested in Cairo on Jan. 25, 2016, and taken into custody. Egyptian officials have denied any involvement to Regeni’s death.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-italy-egypt-regeni-murder-idUSKCN1AU1YL

Newsline: Indonesian diplomat succumbs to wounds from Rome embassy

Indonesian diplomat Tazwin Hanif has succumbed to injuries sustained in a fire at the Indonesian Embassy in Rome earlier this month. Deputy Ambassador Des Alwi said Tazwin’s condition had worsened significantly in the three days following the incident. Hospital doctors had done some emergency operations but were unable to prevent the patient’s death at 4:25 p.m. local time on Dec. 25. Initially, Tazwin’s injuries from the Dec. 2 incident had described has mild. Tazwin leaves one wife and three children. He was a senior diplomat at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a specialist on the issue of climate change. He was also a member of the evaluation committee at the United Nations’ International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). “The Indonesian Embassy in Rome is coordinating with the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the legal process related to autopsy obligations. Once the administrative necessities are cleared, we will bring the body back to Indonesia as soon as possible,” Des said to thejakartapost.com on Dec. 26.

http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2015/12/27/indonesian-diplomat-succumbs-wounds-rome-embassy-fire.html

Newsline: UK, Italian embassies in Libya remain open

Britain’s embassy in Tripoli was virtually the only diplomatic mission still open in Libya’s war-torn capital as fierce fighting prompted other countries to withdraw their diplomats. France had maintained a presence after the Americans evacuated their mission at the weekend, but as the fighting worsened it closed its embassy and withdrew 50 French staff and citizens, along with six British nationals, aboard a warship. Britain’s diplomats are hunkered down in the south-west of the city in a fortified compound nicknamed the Alamo by security guards because of the constant thundering of rockets overhead fired by warring militias nearby. With Libya’s government having all but collapsed, there is understood to be disquiet among some British officials over the decision to remain in the capital. The British ambassador Michael Aron, said there were no plans to evacuate, tweeting: “Rumour control: a small group of British nationals left Tripoli today on a French frigate. I am still here and the embassy is still open!” At the weekend, an attempt to evacuate Britain’s non-essential staff by road was halted when a convoy of jeeps came under fire close to Camp 27, the headquarters of an Islamist militia on Tripoli’s western outskirts. Italy is also keeping its embassy open, in large part to coordinate an “air bridge” of military C130 transport aircraft that Rome says has already ferried more than 100 foreigners from Tripoli. Germany, Japan and the Philippines all closed their embassies, with diplomats journeying by road to Tunisia. Around 4,000-6,000 Libyans are crossing the border daily.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/30/uk-embassy-libya-open-tripoli-fighting

Newsline: US diplomat and CIA operative scapegoated for whistle-blowing

As a presidential candidate in 2008, Barack Obama made many promises. One notable pledge was that, as president, he would strengthen whistle-blower-protection laws to make it easier for federal employees to report waste, fraud and abuse in government. Since then, Obama has signed an executive order and a bill strengthening the rights of whistle-blowers. But the new law does not provide the same protections to government employees who work in the intelligence community and want to report wrongdoing. Former undercover CIA officer Sabrina De Sousa found that out the hard way. In 2005, De Sousa, who was officially listed as a State Department diplomat assigned to the U.S. Consulate in Milan, was implicated in the rendition of a radical Egyptian cleric in Italy named Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, better known as Abu Omar. On February 17, 2003, a white van pulled up and Abu Omar was shoved inside. He was then flown to Egypt, where, he said, he was subjected to brutal torture techniques, such as electric shocks, for four years. Italy launched an investigation into Abu Omar’s abduction in 2005, and in 2007 more than two dozen Americans suspected of being involved in the rendition, including De Sousa. In November 2009, she was sentenced in absentia to a five-year prison term in Italy. Last year, for the first time, De Sousa revealed that she was a CIA operative. For nearly a decade, she had been working behind-the-scenes firing off letters to members of Congress and executive branch officials, informing them that the U.S. violated international laws when the CIA decided to kidnap Abu Omar. In 2009, hoping the response would be different under Obama, she disclosed to then-CIA Director Leon Panetta and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton what she says are troubling details about her treatment by the U.S. government in the aftermath of her whistle-blowing. But, like the Bush administration officials before them, they also ignored her pleas, De Sousa says, and the CIA turned her into a “scapegoat” while the executive branch looked away.

http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/6/26/exclusive-scapegoatingthewhistleblower.html

Newsline: Italian envoy faces child abuse charges in Philippines

The Laguna Prosecutors Office has ordered the filing of charges against the Italian diplomat who has been detained in the country since last month for alleged child abuse. Daniele Bosio, the Italian ambassador to Turkmenistan, will be charged with three counts of violation of Republic Act 7610 or the Anti-Child Abuse Act and three counts of violation of Republic Act 10364 or the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2012. Bosio was on a holiday when he was arrested last April. Witnesses from the Bahay Tuluyan Foundation, a non-government group promoting children’s rights, alleged that while at the resort in Laguna, they saw Bosio “touching and caressing” three underaged boys in the swimming pool. When asked how they were related, one of the boys said Bosio was his father but another said they were not related at all. Sensing something wrong, the foundation executives sought help from policemen at the resort who arrested Bosio. For his defense, Bosio said he merely acted in the performance of his social and moral duty to afford the children their rights to play and recreation as well as their basic rights to food, clothing and cleanliness. But Provincial Prosecutor Agrifino Baybay III said in a resolution that if Bosio’s intention was to help uplift the welfare of complainants, “he should have instead brought them to Breakthrough Christian Academy (BCA), Brgy. Bagong Silang, Quezon City where he previously served as volunteer teacher so that they too may have the same opportunity to study and attend school just like the long line of minor children bought to this office during the preliminary investigation to vouch for his supposed reputation for, among others, being fond of and passionate about helping underprivileged children.”

http://globalnation.inquirer.net/105129/italian-envoy-facing-child-abuse-rap-ordered-charged

Newsline: US troops deploy to Italy due to embassy in Libya threat

The US military has moved a team of marines from Spain to southern Italy as a precautionary step in case the US embassy in Libya comes under threat, officials said. The contingent of nearly 200 marines is part of a newly-created “crisis response” force set up in the wake of a deadly attack on a US diplomatic outpost in the Libyan city of Benghazi in 2012. The State Department has requested the move amid growing concerns over violence in Libya, but there was no imminent plan to evacuate the embassy in Tripoli, an administration official said. “We’re seeing a deterioration of the security situation there,” the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AFP. The team, equipped with four tilt-rotor Osprey aircraft as well as two KC-130 refueling tankers, arrived at the US naval air station in Sigonella in Italy on Tuesday, Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steven Warren told reporters. The deployment was ordered as a “prudent measure” due to “the general unrest in Northern Africa,” Warren said. He declined to say if the move was focused on a particular country. The US troops were drawn from a force in Moron, Spain, the Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response unit. The force helped evacuate staff from the US embassy in South Sudan last year.

http://www.thelocal.it/20140515/us-troops-deploy-to-italy-due-to-libya-threat

Newsline: Venetian separatists ask Rome for their embassy back

For nearly 80 years, it has been seen as one of the most potent landmarks of Italy’s Fascist era. Set on one of Rome’s busiest squares, the Palazzo Venezia was the venue for Benito Mussolini’s most important speeches, including his declaration of the Italian empire in 1936, and Italy’s entry into World War Two in 1940. Now, though, the elegant 16th century block is the subject of an altogether different vision for Italy’s future. Far from being used to project Rome’s dominance across Italy and beyond, it has become the prize in a separatist campaign by the capital’s one-time rival, Venice. The campaign, which already claims two million supporters, demands that Venice separate from Italy and revive its centuries-long tradition as a free republic. It is growing in confidence thanks to long-standing discontent with Italy’s chaotic central government, despite initial ridicule from Rome’s political elite. Now, three weeks after the campaigners staged an unofficial “referendum” that they claim showed a majority of Venetians backing their case, its leaders have demanded that the Palazzo Venezia be handed to them as their unofficial “embassy” to Rome. And while their demand may appear somewhat cheeky, they point out that history is on their side. The building did indeed serve as Venice’s embassy to Rome between the 16th and 18th centuries, when The Most Serene Republic of Venice, as it was then known, was a powerful maritime power.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/italy/10762702/Venetian-separatists-ask-Rome-for-their-embassy-back.html