Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for May 15, 2023

Newsline: US embassy did not comment after citizen sentenced to life in prison for espionage in China

The U.S. embassy declined to comment after a 78-year-old U.S. citizen and Hong Kong resident was on Monday convicted of espionage and sentenced to life imprisonment by a court in eastern China. A U.S. embassy spokesperson said in an emailed statement in response to Reuters that it was aware of the case, but due to privacy considerations had no further comment. “The Department of State has no greater priority than the safety and security of U.S. citizens overseas,” the spokesperson added. (https://neuters.de/world/asia-pacific/us-citizen-sentenced-life-prison-espionage-chinese-court-2023-05-15/) John Shing-wan Leung was also stripped of his political rights after a brief trial on Monday, the Suzhou Intermediate People’s Court said in the statement. The court added that Leung was a Hong Kong resident and a U.S. passport holder. The court gave no specifics of his alleged offence, but said: “Suzhou’s National Security Bureau began investigating Leung on April 15, 2021, on suspicion of spying.” The sentencing comes amid growing tensions between China and the U.S. on a number of fronts, from accusations of Chinese spying and human rights abuses, to U.S. efforts to build up military alliances to curb China’s ambitions toward Taiwan and in the Pacific.

Newsline: Iran summons Iraqi ambassador

Iran summoned the Iraqi ambassador to Tehran after the Baghdad government’s alleged invitation of “separatist groups” to attend an official ceremony. According to Iranian local media, the event took place in the Kurdistan region of Iraq and was attended by some members of the “separatist groups” which triggered Iran’s anger. Nevertheless, ISNA News Agency also reported that the continued movements of some terrorist groups in this region led the the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Iran to summon the Iraqi ambassador. The ministry denounced in a statement inviting members of “separatist groups,” which is a term used by Iran to describe Kurdish groups.” (https://www.albawaba.com/news/iran-summons-iraqi-ambassador-1518689) The Iranian government considered that Iraq broke the recent security agreement between the Islamic Republic of Iran and Iraq after inviting the members.

Newsline: South Africa’s ambassador to Algeria has died

South Africa’s ambassador to Algeria, Billy Masetlha has died after a long illness. (https://www.enca.com/news/sa-ambassador-algeria-billy-masetlha-has-died) Masetlha has a long career in government having served as Director General of the National Intelligence Agency, among others. He was a member of Umkhonto We Sizwe and was deeply involved in the anti-apartheid movement. Masetlha was exiled in Botswana and Zambia. International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor has sent her condolences to the Masetlha family. Pandor says South Africa has lost a dependable representative and a firm believer in the ideals and goals of pan-Africanism.