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Archive for UK

Newsline: European Union names first ambassador to Brexit Britain

The European Union named a Portuguese diplomat as its first ambassador to Britain after it leaves the EU next week. Britain’s tortured EU divorce will be final on Jan. 31, more than three years since Britons 52-48% in a referendum in favor of departing the bloc. “As of that date, the United Kingdom will be a third country,” the EU’s joint foreign policy service said in a statement that named João Vale de Almeida “the first head of the future EU delegation to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.” (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-britain-eu-diplomacy/european-union-names-first-ambassador-to-brexit-britain-idUSKBN1ZN1V3) It said Almeida, who previously serves as the EU’s ambassador to the United Nations and the United States, would take up his new role on Feb. 1.

Newsline: UK keeping security of Tehran embassy under review

Britain is keeping the security of its embassy in Tehran under review after Iran briefly arrested London’s envoy to the country, foreign minister Dominic Raab said on Monday. “Given the treatment of the ambassador we are keeping the security measures for the embassy under review,” Raab said in parliament, describing the arrest as a flagrant violation of international law. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-iran-crash-britain-security/uk-keeping-security-of-tehran-embassy-under-review-raab-idUSKBN1ZC1OI) Raab also said transatlantic unity over Iran was important so that the country received the same messages from Britain, Europe and the United States.

Newsline: UK and Germany condemn arrest of Britain’s Tehran ambassador

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and German Chancellor Angela Merkel condemned the arrest of Britain’s ambassador to Tehran, a spokesman from Johnson’s office said in a statement issued after the two leaders spoke on Sunday. “On Iran, they discussed the tragic loss of life on the Ukraine International Airlines passenger jet. They condemned Iran’s arrest of the UK Ambassador to Tehran as a violation of international law,” the spokesman said. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-iran-crash-britain-germany/uk-and-germany-condemn-arrest-of-britains-tehran-ambassador-uk-pms-office-idUSKBN1ZB0G1) “The leaders also discussed our shared interests in ensuring Iran never acquires a nuclear weapon, and reaffirmed their continued commitment to preserving the JCPOA (Iran nuclear deal).”

Newsline: Hardline militia rallies at UK embassy in Iran, demands closure

Iran’s hardline Basij militia staged a demonstration outside Britain’s embassy in Tehran on Sunday demanding that it be closed, Iranian state media reported. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-iran-crash-britain-militia/hardline-militia-rallies-at-uk-embassy-in-iran-demands-closure-report-idUSKBN1ZB0DD) The rally by the Basij, affiliated to Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards, followed the brief detention of Britain’s ambassador to Iran during protests after the Iranian military admitted to mistakenly bringing down a civilian airliner in Iran.

Newsline: U.K. Says Iran Detained Ambassador as Protests Hit Tehran

The U.K. ambassador to Iran was “briefly detained” by Iranian authorities on Saturday, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said. Ambassador Rob Macaire was arrested and held for three hours after attending a vigil for the victims of the Tehran plane crash which turned into demonstration, the Telegraph reported. “The arrest of our Ambassador in Tehran without grounds or explanation is a flagrant violation of international law,” Raab said in a statement. (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-01-11/u-k-says-iran-detained-its-ambassador-as-protests-hit-tehran) U.S. State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said the action was a violation of the Vienna Convention, which ensures immunity and privileges for foreign diplomats. The event which Macaire attended had been advertised as a vigil at Amir Kabir University for the 176 victims of the Tehran plane crash last week, according to the Telegraph. He and another member of the embassy staff left once the vigil turned into a protest. Iran’s foreign ministry said on Sunday it summoned Macaire for his “unconventional conduct and presence in illegal gatherings.” It didn’t provide more details.

Newsline: WikiLeaks’ Assange testifies in embassy spying case

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Friday testified in his legal case against a Spanish private security firm that he claims spied on him while he was holed up in the Ecuadoran embassy in London. Assange, who is currently serving time at a high-security prison in Britain, was to answer questions from a judge at Spain’s National Court in Madrid, testifying by videoconference from Westminster Magistrates Court in London, his legal team said. (https://www.france24.com/en/20191220-wikileaks-assange-testifies-in-embassy-spying-case) Spain’s top criminal court is investigating whether Undercover Global Ltd, which was responsible for security at the embassy, spied on Assange and passed on information to the United States. The case is key to Assange’s efforts to fight an extradition request by the US Justice Department which is pushing to have him put on trial for leaking hundreds of thousands of secret US military and diplomatic documents in 2010. “The case being investigated in Spain states that Mr Assange has been subjected to widespread interference on a massive scale by the American authorities, violating his confidential communications with his lawyers, among other rights,” his legal team said. “The information gathered by this firm — through the alleged use of video cameras which also captured audio, hidden microphones, copying identity documents, monitoring the electronic devices and mobile phones of visitors, among other things — ended up in the hands of the US intelligence services.” There was a “huge body of evidence” to back the claim, coming from both company data as well as from protected witnesses who were formerly employed by the firm, the source said. As well as installing cameras, Undercover Global is suspected of installing microphones in places as diverse as the base of a fire extinguisher and in the women’s toilets, where Assange held many meetings for fear of being spied on. They were allegedly able to record discussions with his lawyers as well as details of medical visits, with the information then transferred to servers that were accessible to the US intelligence services. His legal team said that given the alleged spying at the embassy, it “underlines the need for the British judicial system to refuse to hand him over to the United States” where there were no guarantees for his safety.

Newsline: Wife of US diplomat charged in death of British teenager

Anne Sacoolas, the wife of an American diplomat, has been formally charged in the death of British teenager Harry Dunn, the U.K.’s Crown Prosecution Service announced Friday. (https://abcnews.go.com/International/us-diplomats-wife-anne-sacoolas-charged-dangerous-driving/story?id=67849994) Sacoolas is believed to have been driving the car that crashed into Dunn’s motorcycle on a roadway in the village of Croughton, England, on the night of Aug. 27. Sacoolas then fled to the United States claiming diplomatic immunity, which sparked a diplomatic rift between the U.S. and the U.K. The Home Office, the government body responsible for policing and internal affairs, will ultimately decide whether to issue the extradition request through formal diplomatic channels, the CPS said. U.K. police traveled to the U.S. to interview Sacoolas, with President Donald Trump himself speaking out about the incident in October, describing it as a “terrible accident” while conceding it was a “very complex issue” due to Sacoolas’ claim of diplomatic immunity.