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Archive for UK

Newsline: Lebanon judge seeks death penalty for UK diplomat’s alleged killer

An investigative judge in Lebanon has demanded the death penalty for a man who allegedly raped and murdered a British diplomat in Beirut. The judge referred the case to a public trial. The indictment, a copy of which was obtained by the Guardian, identified Tarek Houshieh, an Uber driver, as the only suspect in the killing of Rebecca Dykes, who worked with the British embassy in Beirut. It claimed that Houshieh had confessed to the crimes and referred his case to the criminal court, charging him with premeditated murder. Dykes’s body was found in December on the Metn highway leading out of Beirut. She had disappeared after spending an evening with friends at a bar in Gemmayzeh, a nightlife district in the Lebanese capital. Houshieh, a Lebanese national, had allegedly picked up Dykes from Gemmayzeh after she requested an Uber ride. The indictment alleged that instead of driving her home, he raped and then choked her to death before driving to the highway to get rid of her body, and later disposed of her purse and identity papers.



Newsline: Britain appoints Frank Baker a new ambassador to Libya

The UK Foreign Office announced appointing Frank Baker as the new Libya ambassador to succeed Peter Millett. Baker commented on his appointment on Twitter saying, “I am honored to be the new British Ambassador to Libya. Looking forward to visiting Tripoli soon to meet my team, and to start working with them to achieve the common interests of Britain and Libya.” He also added that “Britain and Libya have a long history,” saying “over the coming weeks I will listen to and learn from people across Libya and discuss how we can work together to achieve our common interests.” The Foreign Secretary of the UK, Boris Johnson commented also on Twitter saying, “The UK is at the forefront of diplomatic work with the Libyan government and our international partners to help bring stability to Libya. If left unchecked, the violence and ungoverned space will only increase the challenges from illegal migration and terrorism. These are issues that matter to the people of Libya, but also to people here in the UK.” He also praised the new ambassador saying that he had served the UK well as ambassador to Iraq and also Kuwait.


Newsline: Assange isn’t leaving the Ecuadorian embassy anytime soon

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange may stay holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London after a British judge ruled Tuesday not to drop charges against him — but the hacktivist still maintains hope of walking free. Assange, 46, has hidden out in the embassy for the last five years, avoiding extradition to Sweden on rape charges, as well as a bail-violation rap in the UK. Sweden dropped the rape case against him, but the Brits still want to take Assange to court for breaching the conditions of his bail. His lawyer said the bail case should be dropped now that Sweden doesn’t want to charge Assange.


Newsline: Unpaid staff forced to move into Venezuelan consulate in London

The collapse of the Venezuelan economy has reached its diplomatic mission in London, with three officials and their families having to move into a cultural centre in Fitzrovia because they cannot pay rent. Venezuelan media have published an apparently leaked letter written by the ambassador to London, Rocío Maneiro, to the foreign minister, Jorge Arreaza, complaining that salaries had not been paid since September, and explaining that the staff had found it “impossible” to cover their rent.


Newsline: UK’s Bangkok embassy sold by Foreign Office for £420m

The Foreign Office has sold its British embassy in Bangkok for £420m, the biggest property sale in its history. Money raised will be used to renovate other embassies around the world. British diplomats in Thailand’s capital city will move to a modern tower block in 2019, that has been leased for the next 15 years. The colonial-era embassy was built in 1922 when the British government bought the nine-acre site on the outskirts of Bangkok. The Wireless Road compound includes its own tropical garden in a busy part of the capital, but large parts of the embassy have fallen into disrepair.


Newsline: Julian Assange pleads to leave Ecuadorian embassy because of ‘depression and bad tooth’

Julian Assange has pleaded for a warrant for his arrest to be cancelled so he can leave the Ecuadorian embassy as he is suffering from “depression and a terribly bad tooth”. The Wikileaks founder, who has been holed up for five and a half years, has argued that the only thing stopping him leaving the building and heading to the South American country is a threat he will be held by police for breaching his bail conditions. His lawyers argue that as proceedings in Sweden over rape allegations have now been dropped the British arrest warrant has lost its purpose.


Newsline: WikiLeaks may walk free from Ecuador embassy on February 6

A London court will rule on February 6 whether to drop an arrest warrant against Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange, after his lawyers made a surprise request for the move in Westminster Magistrate’s Court. Assange, who has spent the past five years holed up in the Ecuador embassy, next door to Harrods in London’s posh Knightsbridge district, asked his lawyers to argue that the warrant, issued after he breached his bail conditions, be discontinued after Swedish authorities confirmed that their extradition warrant is no longer live. Assange, 46, breached his bail conditions and requested asylum in the embassy in 2012 in order to avoid extradition to Sweden over an allegation of rape, which he has consistently denied. Swedish prosecutors confirmed they had dropped the investigation against him last year but Assange could still be arrested if he leaves the building in Knightsbridge due to his skipping of the UK bail conditions. In the Westminster Magistrates Court his lawyers argued now that the Swedish case had been dropped the warrant had “lost its purpose and its function”.