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Newsline: Ecuador Counts Cost to Spin Assange’s Asylum at Its U.K. Embassy

Ecuador’s London embassy spent $144,000 on public relations associated with the asylum it gave to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, the country’s Comptroller General’s Office found in an audit. The embassy also spent $332,000 on legal advice during the same 2012-2013 period, and $105,000 on food for Assange during his seven-year stay, according to the audit, which was signed by auditor Sonia Sierra. (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-07-12/ecuador-counts-cost-to-spin-assange-s-asylum-at-its-u-k-embassy) The government of President Lenin Moreno had Assange expelled from the embassy in April. He is currently in jail in the U.K., and is facing an extradition request from the U.S., which has charged him with 18 counts related to endangering national security by conspiring to obtain and disclose classified information. Some of the embassy’s public relations spending went to MCSquared, which represented the government of Rafael Correa, the country’s president from 2007 to 2017, in a campaign against U.S. oil company Chevron Corp, the audit found.


Newsline: The UK ambassador scandal will make diplomats think twice before hitting send

Diplomacy was dealt a hammer blow this week. Kim Darroch’s sudden departure from Washington will have many diplomats wondering if they could be next. The UK ambassador’s resignation — after his assessment of Donald Trump was leaked — has created a global chill that will undoubtedly be felt for some while, and not just by British diplomats. It’s no secret that many foreign ambassadors have sent home scathing assessments of the President. “The leaker is guilty of the worst breach of trust in our service in my career. The damage after three days is evident in the resignation of the most senior British diplomat,” said Simon McDonald, head of Britain’s Diplomatic Service. (https://edition.cnn.com/2019/07/12/europe/kim-darroch-diplomacy-impact-robertson-gbr-intl/index.html) So what should diplomats do? Stay shtum when your capital asks for your unvarnished assessment of person A, or situation B? In so doing, you would fail your central mission of ensuring your country has every advantage. Or would you tone down your assessment, risk under-informing your political bosses, and by extension undermine your national interest ? Theresa May wants a third way: Keep up the frank exchanges but find new ways to avoid leaks. Following his resignation, she praised Darroch and told UK lawmakers: “Good government depends on public servants being able to give full and frank advice. I want all our public servants to have the confidence to be able to do that.” To restore that confidence might require a shakeup in the way diplomats report. Currently “diptels” — the cables which Darroch used to tell May that Trump and his White House were “inept” and “dysfunctional” — get security gradings based on “national security” rather than political sensitivity. To counter leaks, a new, more restrictive grading could take into account the political impact a leaked diptel might have, which would mean fewer people would see the ambassador’s raw assessments.

Newsline: Diplomats express solidarity with UK ambassador’s verdict on Trump

After Britain’s ambassador to the US resigned following personal attacks by President Donald Trump, one of the most powerful expressions of support for the UK envoy was only 23 words long — but it spoke volumes, diplomats and foreign envoys said. A photo tweeted of ambassadors from Germany, France and the European Union with outgoing UK Ambassador Kim Darroch literally showed the other envoys standing shoulder to shoulder with their British counterpart. “Honored to host my colleagues and friends,” German Ambassador Emily Haber wrote in her post. (https://edition.cnn.com/2019/07/11/politics/trump-darroch-ambassadors-washington/index.html) Diplomats from around the world told CNN the image didn’t just symbolize solidarity, it also reflected the fact that most embassies have written cables very similar to the private messages — leaked in an act of political sabotage — that Darroch had sent to London describing the President and his administration as inept, insecure and incompetent.

Newsline: UK ambassador to US who criticized Trump resigns

The British ambassador to the U.S. who criticized President Trump has resigned, the U.K. Foreign Office said on July 10. Ambassador Kim Darroch — in documents leaked in recent days — slammed the Trump administration as “diplomatically clumsy and inept,” and said he doubted it would become “substantially more normal.” In a resignation letter on Wednesday, Darroch said “the current situation is making it impossible for me to carry out my role as I would like.” (https://www.foxnews.com/world/uk-ambassador-to-us-who-criticized-trump-resigns-british-foreign-office-says) “Although my posting is not due to end until the end of this year, I believe in the current circumstances the responsible course is to allow the appointment of a new ambassador,” he wrote, noting the situation “has brought home to me the depth of friendship and close ties between our two countries.” Darroch said he is “grateful to all those in the U.K. and the U.S., who have offered their support during this difficult few days.” Prime Minister Theresa May said it was a “matter of regret” that Darroch resigned. A day before Darroch’s resignation Downing Street said he “continues to have the prime minister’s full support,” adding that “we have made clear to the U.S. how unfortunate this leak is” and that “the selective extracts leaked do not reflect the closeness of, and the esteem in which we hold, the relationship.” A source close to the matter told Fox News that Darroch will remain in Washington, D.C. until the prime minister chooses his replacement — and with May leaving her role, it’s unclear when the next ambassador will arrive in the U.S. The source added that Darroch is leaving his post with his “head held high.”

Newsline: Trump calls British ambassador ‘very stupid guy’

President Donald Trump stepped up his attacks on Britain’s ambassador to the United States on Tuesday as Prime Minister Theresa May reaffirmed her support for the diplomat whose leaked emails called Trump’s administration “inept.” In a series of tweets, Trump branded Kim Darroch a “wacky Ambassador that the U.K. foisted upon the United States,” adding that he was “not someone we are thrilled with, a very stupid guy.” May’s office described the email leaks as “unfortunate” but insisted that Darroch would continue to carry out his diplomatic duties for the time being. (https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2019/07/09/trump-calls-britains-ambassador-u-s-kim-darroch-very-stupid-guy/1680973001/) The confidential memos leaked Sunday to Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper contained stinging criticisms of Trump’s White House, portraying it as “clumsy” and completely absorbed by “infighting and chaos.” The emails date back to 2017. Trump said Monday he would no longer deal with Darroch. He called him “insecure” and “incompetent.” The latest tweets from the president went a step further as he labeled Darroch a “pompous fool.” Trump claimed to not know the ambassador but he has met him a few times, including recently during his state visit to Britain. Darroch was disinvited to a dinner with Trump and Qatar’s emir on July 8, according to U.S. and British officials.

Newsline: Trump fires back at UK ambassador who attacked him

President Trump pulled no punches in condemning Britain’s ambassador to the United States on July 7, saying “we are not big fans of that man” and asserting that he has “not served the U.K. well,” after a leaked diplomatic cable showed the ambassador secretly slamming the White House. Ambassador Kim Darroch described the Trump administration as “diplomatically clumsy and inept” and said he doubted it would become “substantially more normal,” according to the cable. (https://www.foxnews.com/politics/trump-uk-ambassador-leaked-cables-not-big-fans-of-that-man) The memo was one of several documents published by the Mail on Sunday in which Darroch apparently made highly negative statements about the government of Britain’s closest ally. “We’ve had our little ins and outs with a couple of countries, and I would say that the U.K. — their ambassador has not served the U.K. well, I can tell you that,” Trump told reporters. “We are not big fans of that man, and he has not served the U.K. well. So, I can understand it and I can say things about him, but I won’t bother.” Britain’s Foreign Office did not challenge the authenticity of the leaked documents, which covered the period of 2017 to the present, and came to Darroch’s defense. It called the leak “mischievous behavior” and said the public has expected diplomats to provide honest assessments of the politics in the countries where they’re posted. The Foreign Office said the leaks would not harm the productive relationship between the British government and the Trump White House. A formal investigation of the leak may be set in motion in the coming days. The State Department declined to comment on the ambassador’s comments. It is customary for senior British diplomats posted overseas to file straightforward memos to senior ministers and security services analysts back home so political trends and possible threats to British interests could be gauged, but it’s unusual for a large number of them to be made public.

Newsline: UK defends ambassador after disparaging Trump comments leak

The British government is defending its ambassador to the United States as merely doing his job following reports of leaked memos in which he called President Donald Trump and his administration “dysfunctional” and “inept.” The leak of the memos, obtained by the Daily Mail, is likely to further strain a U.S.-British relationship already facing challenges stemming in part from the Brexit crisis and from Trump’s occasional forays into British politics. According to the Daily Mail, in a series of secret diplomatic cables that cover 2017 to the present, Ambassador Kim Darroch had many negative things to say about Trump and his aides. “We don’t really believe this Administration is going to become substantially more normal; less dysfunctional; less unpredictable; less faction riven; less diplomatically clumsy and inept,” Darroch wrote at one point, according to the British news outlet. (https://www.politico.eu/article/uk-defends-ambassador-after-disparaging-trump-comments-leak/) In a statement, a spokesperson for the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office didn’t specifically discuss the secret cables or name Darroch, a veteran diplomat serving as ambassador here since 2016, but effectively defended the comments reported by the Mail. “The British public would expect our ambassadors to provide ministers with an honest, unvarnished assessment of the politics in their country,” the spokesperson said. “Their views are not necessarily the views of ministers or indeed the government. But we pay them to be candid. Just as the U.S. Ambassador here will send back his reading of Westminster politics and personalities.” The spokesperson went on to suggest unhappiness that the information was leaked: “Of course we would expect such advice to be handled by ministers and civil servants in the right way and it’s important that our ambassadors can offer their advice and for it remain confidential.” The spokesperson added, however: “Our team in Washington have strong relations with the White House and no doubt that these will withstand such mischievous behavior.” Neither the White House nor the State Department immediately responded to a request for comment.