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Archive for Spain

Newsline: Spain: Court probes spying of Assange at Ecuadorean embassy

Spain’s National Court said Wednesday it is investigating a Spanish security firm that worked for the Ecuadorean Embassy in London on suspicion that it spied on WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for U.S. secret services during the seven years he spent in the embassy. The court said it is investigating whether David Morales and his Undercover Global S.L. security agency invaded Assange’s privacy and that of his lawyers by installing hidden microphones and other devices in the embassy. (http://www.startribune.com/spain-court-probes-spying-of-assange-at-ecuadorean-embassy/562627142/) It said the information gathered appeared to have been passed on to Ecuadorean and U.S. bodies. Assange is jailed in London, fighting extradition to the United States on espionage charges. He was given asylum in the embassy for some seven years after jumping bail in 2012 when Sweden sought his extradition on sexual misconduct allegations. Court documents said Morales and his firm, based in the southern Spanish town of Jerez de la Frontera, were also under investigation for bribery and money laundering. The court opened the investigation in August following a complaint by Assange and his defense team, but did not release the information until Wednesday as it had placed a secrecy order on the case. A court official confirmed that Morales was arrested last month but is on conditional release.

Newsline: From controversy to EU’s top diplomat

The nomination of Spain’s Josep Borrell as the EU high-representative for foreign affairs and vice-president of the commission was among one of Ursula von der Leyen’s most surprising appointments – he is 72-years-old and his career has been marred by more than one contentious event. Borrell is a former aeronautical engineer with a doctorate in economics and an extensive experience in Brussels. He was elected as the president of the EU Parliament from 2004 to 2007, and remained as the president of the committee on development until 2009. But, at first inspection, the parliament’s legal affairs committee was not satisfied with the financial declaration of Borrell. (https://euobserver.com/political/146106) Borrell is also well-known for saying controversial things, that may complicate his hearing taking place on 7 October. For instance, Borrell has voiced his sympathy for Iran on several occasion – defending the 2015 Iran nuclear deal that US president Donald Trump rejected and pledging to try to save it. Overall, his relationship with US president Donal Trump is not the best. Borrell described him as the first US president “to voice hostility towards the European project [and] to describe us as foes”. He also defined China as a “systemic rival”, and the EU-Turkey agreement for refugees as a solution “to stop an immigrant haemorrhage”. His comments even made Russia summon the Spanish ambassador to Moscow last May after he referred to the country as an “old enemy [that] is once again saying, ‘here I am,’ and has returned as a threat”.

Newsline: Afghan Ambassador To Spain Injured In Barcelona Mugging

The Afghan ambassador to Spain has been mugged in Barcelona, police and diplomatic sources say, the latest in a string of high-profile robberies in Spain’s northeastern Mediterranean port. The assailants attacked Humayoon Rasaw on a street in the center of the city on August 18, throwing him to the ground to steal his watch, a police spokeswoman said. Rasaw, who was in Barcelona for celebrations marking Afghanistan’s national day, suffered a leg injury but “is fine,” an Afghan Embassy source said in Madrid. (https://www.rferl.org/a/afghan-ambassador-to-spain-injured-in-barcelona-mugging/30118958.html) Rasaw’s watch was worth 17,000 euros ($18,850), Spanish newspaper El Periodico reported. Rasaw’s mugging comes as Barcelona, one of Europe’s most visited cities, has seen a sharp rise in crime, including several involving foreigners that have made global headlines. In late June, Hyewon Kim, a South Korean woman who was part of an official government delegation, died after her purse was snatched, when she fell and seriously injured her head.

Newsline: US ex-marine tied to North Korean embassy raid in Spain to be released on bail

hristopher Ahn, a former U.S. marine who Spanish authorities have linked to the February break-in at North Korea’s embassy in Madrid, was at a hearing at a California court on July 9 ordered to be freed on a $1.3 million bail. Ahn — who the U.S. government has asked be held in captivity since his detention in April — must remain under house arrest pending further proceedings into his potential extradition to Spain. He will be required to use an ankle monitor, and will only be permitted to leave home for medical appointments and to attend church. (https://www.nknews.org/2019/07/chris-ahn-ex-marine-tied-to-north-korean-embassy-raid-to-be-released-on-bail/) Family and friends who put up the bail, U.S. Magistrate Judge Jean Rosenbluth said, stood to risk losing the money should Ahn, previously described as a “flight risk,” flee. “I spent a lot of time reading about you and I’m confident you’re going to do the right thing,” Rosenbluth was quoted as having told the former marine, first tied to the mystery break-in at the DPRK embassy in Madrid back in February. That raid, Spanish authorities have alleged, saw Ahn and others from the “Free Joseon” group forcibly enter the DPRK embassy, before allegedly assaulting and restraining diplomatic staff.

Newsline: North Koreans want to kill ex-Marine accused of entering Spain embassy

A former U.S. Marine who is an activist in a group advocating freedom for North Korea has had a target placed on his back by Kim Jong Un’s regime, a federal judge in Los Angeles has said. “The F.B.I. has confirmed that the North Korean government has threatened his life,” U.S. Magistrate Jean Rosenbluth wrote in an order conditionally granting bail to Christopher Ahn on $1 million bond. ” … He is apparently the target of a dictatorship’s efforts to murder him.” (https://www.foxnews.com/us/north-koreans-want-to-kill-ex-marine-accused-of-entering-dictatorships-spain-embassy) The 37-year-old Ahn, who spent six years in the military and served in the Iraq War, was arrested in February as a member of the group Free Joseon. The group, whose name means “Free North Korea,” opposes the Kim regime and has helped some high-level North Koreans to defect. They even consider themselves the “provisional government” of North Korea. That resistance has seemingly earned Ahn a death sentence from Pyongyang. Ahn and Free Joseon leader Adrian Hong, who remains at large, face extradition to Spain on charges that they broke into the North Korean embassy in Madrid before tying up and beating some of the diplomats. Those claims were the basis for Spain seeking the men’s return. Attorneys for Free Joseon blast the allegations of violence committed by Ahn and Hong as lies from Kim Jong Un’s diplomats, whom they say have to make up a story to save their own skins. The activists claim that they were invited into the embassy and spent hours inside with no problems. Videos viewed by Fox News show the activists calmly walking into the embassy, and one sitting in an office having a quiet chat with a member of Kim’s diplomatic corps. One unidentified activist takes the official photographs of Kim Jong Un and his father, Kim Jong Il from the wall, and smashes the portraits on the floor.

Newsline: Russia summons Spanish ambassador over ‘old enemy’ comment

Russia summoned Spain’s ambassador to Moscow on Tuesday after acting Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell referred to the country as an “old enemy”, the Russian foreign ministry said on May 28. Borrell told Spanish newspaper El Periodico last week: “Russia, our old enemy, is once again saying, ‘here I am,’ and has returned as a threat, and China is also presenting itself as a rival.” The ministry said Borrell’s comment “damages the relations between Spain and Russia, the mutual perception of bilateral relations as friendly, based on a partnership and mutually-beneficial.” (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-russia-spain-diplomacy/russia-summons-spanish-ambassador-over-old-enemy-comment-idUSKCN1SY1W6) The Spanish Foreign Ministry confirmed Russia’s decision to summon the envoy and criticized it. “Russia’s reaction has surprised negatively. We believe they have overreacted, interpreting in a bilateral way some reflections over global geopolitics made from a European perspective,” a Spanish Foreign Ministry official said.

Newsline: Spanish journalist arrested for trying to sell Assange embassy videos for $3.4M

A Spanish journalist and an unnamed computer programmer were arrested Wednesday for allegedly trying to make more $3.4 million by selling videos of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange during his time the Ecuador Embassy in London. Jose Martin Santos, who was previously convicted for fraud in a separate case, was taken into custody in Alicante for allegedly being part of a network trying to bribe Wikileaks for millions in exchange for the private videos, Spanish newspaper El Pais reported. (https://www.foxnews.com/world/julian-assange-spain-journalist-embassy-videos) The unnamed computer programmer was also arrested in Alicante, a port city about 260 miles southeast of Madrid. According to the report, the two men plus one more unidentified person met with Wikileaks representative Kristinn Hrafnsson on April 2 and showed her 103 files containing private correspondence and audiovisual material obtained at the embassy. They said the documents would make it to the press unless they were paid $3.4 million. The meeting triggered a complaint filed by Assange at a Madrid court, accused Martin Santos of trying to blackmail Wikileaks as well as embassy personnel, El Pais reported. Assange, 47, was forcibly removed last month from the Ecuadorian embassy in London after Ecuador revoked his political asylum, accusing him of everything from meddling in the nation’s foreign affairs to poor hygiene. Days after his arrest, El Pais published footage showing Assange’s bizarre behavior inside the embassy, including attempting to skateboard around the room to pass the time, and also shows him getting into an argument with a security guard who objected to a meeting he was trying to hold there. It’s unclear if the footage in question overlapped.