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Newsline: Former U.S. ambassador points finger in Qatar lobbying probe

A former high-ranking U.S. ambassador is demanding federal prosecutors explain why he’s facing criminal charges for illegal foreign lobbying on behalf of Qatar while a retired four-star general who worked with him on the effort is not. The dispute involving two Washington power players has highlighted the often-ambiguous boundaries of foreign lobbying laws as well as what prosecutors say were high-level, behind-the-scenes influence dealings with the wealthy Persian Gulf country. Richard G. Olson, former ambassador to the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan, is scheduled to attend a plea hearing Friday on federal charges that include improperly helping Qatar influence U.S. policy in 2017 — when a diplomatic crisis erupted between the gas-rich monarchy and its neighbors over the country’s alleged ties to terror groups and other issues. Olson has argued he’s entitled to learn why prosecutors aren’t also bringing charges against someone he says he worked side by side with on Qatar: retired Marine Gen. John Allen, who led U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan before being tapped in late 2017 to lead the influential Brookings Institution think tank. Allen has denied ever working as a Qatari agent and said his efforts on Qatar in 2017 were motivated to prevent a war from breaking out in the Gulf that would put U.S. troops at risk. A statement from his spokesman to The Associated Press on Thursday said Allen has “voluntarily cooperated with the government’s investigation.” (https://www.newstimes.com/news/article/Former-U-S-ambassador-points-finger-in-Qatar-17217471.php) Olson’s lawyers said in court papers that since 2020 he has been seeking to get a lighter sentencing recommendation by extensively cooperating with prosecutors “with the express goal” of bringing charges against Allen. Olson’s lawyers said prosecutors “reiterated their belief in the strength of their case against” Allen only to apparently drop their pursuit.

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