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Archive for Hong Kong

Newsline: Top Philippine diplomat in Hong Kong backs calls to raise minimum wage of city’s domestic helpers

The Philippines’ top diplomat in Hong Kong has called on the city’s government to raise the minimum monthly wage for domestic helpers amid rising costs of living, with workers asking for a pay rise of 25 per cent to HK$5,500 (US$700) to prevent an exodus to mainland China. Their demands were prompted by Manila’s labour minister Silvestre Bello telling Dubai newspaper Gulf News that Beijing wanted Filipino domestic helpers, cooks, carers, musicians and nurses to work in China, with helpers conceding they would jump ship to the mainland if wages were higher than the current HK$4,410 a month. Bello made the remarks after officials from China and the Philippines last month signed a memorandum of understanding on the employment of Filipinos to teach English in China. Philippine consul general in Hong Kong Antonio Morales said: “[The monthly minimum wage] has to be adjusted to reflect the rising costs of living, the higher inflation rate and the like.” He declined to state a specific figure, but added he hoped Hong Kong officials would come up with a “reasonable” level. About half of Hong Kong’s 370,000 foreign domestic helpers are Filipinos and the numbers are likely to rise as the city needs more carers for its ageing population.


Newsline: From Ecuadorian Embassy in London Assange urges support for Snowden

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange urged the world Saturday to “stand with” Edward Snowden, the man who admitted leaking top-secret details about U.S. surveillance programs, according to the text of a speech posted on Twitter. As he appealed for a “brave country” to step forward and offer Snowden asylum, Assange also accused U.S. President Barack Obama of betraying a generation of “young, technically minded people.” Assange was scheduled to speak from the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London on Saturday, but the appearance was postponed at short notice “due to a security situation,” WikiLeaks said on Twitter. Wednesday marked a year since Assange sought refuge in the embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden. Snowden has fled Hong Kong on Sunday on a flight bound for Moscow. It is thought he got an Aeroflot flight from Chep Lap Kok airport at 11.04am today (Hong Kong time) and is expected to arrive in Moscow’s Shermetyevo International Airport at 5.15pm. It is believed that Russia is not his final destination and he is expected to fly on to another country, potentially Iceland or Ecuador which have indicated they could offer him asylum.


Newsline: Former Dutch diplomat based in Hong Kong faces 15 years’ jail for spying

A former Hong Kong-based diplomat accused of selling state secrets to Russia has been described as “the biggest Dutch spy in recent history” by prosecutors in the The Hague. Raymond Poeteray is facing a possible 15-year jail term after judges retired to consider their verdict following a two-day trial last week. The case has links to the glamorous Russian sleeper agent Anna Chapman, who was deported from the US in 2010. Former Dutch foreign service employee Poeteray worked at the consulate in Hong Kong between 2004 and 2008. He faces charges of passing state secrets to the Russian secret service SVR – the successor to the KGB – as well as bribery, laundering more than HK$870,000 and possession of a firearm. The 61-year-old was arrested in April last year. The court heard Poeteray, employed with the Dutch foreign affairs department until his arrest last year, passed more than 650 documents with sensitive information about the EU and Nato. Investigations into Poeteray were carried out in Hong Kong late last year, but it remains unclear what information he may have passed on to the SVR during his time in the city. Dutch public prosecutors have evidence that shows Poeteray received cash payments into his bank accounts starting in 2004 up to 2011. In 2007 the payments stopped briefly, coinciding with Poeteray making international headlines for abandoning his adopted South Korean daughter to the care of welfare workers in Hong Kong. The defence asked the court to dismiss the trial, based on the grounds of incompetence and carelessness by the public prosecutor. But the court decided to continue the trial first and to rule on dismissal at a later stage. The court will rule in two weeks.


Newsline: Dutch diplomat arrested for spying in HK

A controversial diplomat has been arrested on suspicion of spying for Russia during his four-year stint at the Dutch consulate in Hong Kong. Raymond Poeteray, who made headlines in 2007 for abandoning his adopted South Korean daughter to the care of local welfare staff, is said to have passed secrets to a German couple linked to US-based Russian agent Anna Chapman. Poeteray also face claims of money laundering in casinos, running telephone scams and illegally owning a gun. Although Poeteray, vice-consul in Hong Kong between 2004 and 2008, has not been identified as the Dutch foreign service employee arrested on espionage charges last month, his son confirmed his identity to a newspaper in the Netherlands and two sources have also independently told the Postthat he had been arrested. According to the Dutch Public Prosecution Office, the arrested diplomat appeared on the Dutch authorities’ radar earlier this year after the arrest in Germany of Andreas and Heidrun Anschlag, from Marburg, southern Germany. He is said to have passed classified information to the German couple in return for a monthly payment. Earlier this month, he appeared at a closed pre-trial hearing in the Netherlands, and prosecutors have been given 90 days to investigate further and decide whether to bring charges. “The judge decided that the defendant needs to remain in custody for 90 more days, based on all accounts: bribery, passing on classified information to the couple in Germany … making preparations to spread state secrets, money laundering and possession of a firearm,” a spokesman for the Dutch public prosecutor said. The couple are said to have sent encrypted radio messages to the SVR – the successor to the KGB – for 23 years, and maintained close contact with Chapman, the flame-haired sleeper agent who became a media celebrity in Russia after her deportation from the US in 2010. It remains unclear how Poeteray came into contact with the Anschlags, but he is said to have started his illegal activity seven years ago – during his time in Hong Kong. Dutch media reports suggest that Poeteray had large debts.