Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for Austria

Newsline: Austria expels Russian diplomat amid ‘spy’ reports, Moscow expels Austrian envoy in response

Austria said it is expelling a Russian diplomat for violating envoy privileges, causing Russia to expel an Austrian diplomat in response. The Austrian Foreign Ministry said the Russian envoy is being ordered to leave as his behaviour was not compatible with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, the Austria Press Agency reported. Austria’s Kronen Zeitung newspaper reported the Russian diplomat was allegedly involved in economic espionage at a technology firm for years and was aided by an Austrian citizen. The daily said he has until September 1 to leave. Within hours of Vienna’s announcement, Russia declared an Austrian diplomat as non grata after summoning Austrian Ambassador Johannes Aigner. (https://www.euronews.com/2020/08/24/austria-expels-russian-diplomat-amid-spy-reports-moscow-expels-austrian-envoy-in-response) The move comes two months after a retired Austrian army colonel was sentenced to three years in prison for spying for Russia in a separate case. Less than a week ago, Norway also expelled a Russian diplomat linked to an unrelated case of a man jailed on accusations of spying for Russia.

Newsline: Former ambassador to Austria buys North Palm Beach house for $6M

A former ambassador to Austria under President George W. Bush bought a North Palm Beach house for $6 million. Under a trust in her name, Susan Rasinski McCaw bought the 5,000-square-foot house at 12184 West End in Lost Tree Village, according to records. (https://therealdeal.com/miami/2020/08/25/former-ambassador-to-austria-buys-north-palm-beach-house-for-6m/) Susan McCaw was appointed ambassador in 2005 and left the position in 2007, according to the U.S. Department of State’s website. She is based in Seattle and is president of private investment firm SRM Capital Investments, according to her LinkedIn. In 1998, McCaw married Craig McCaw, a mobile phone pioneer who sold McCaw Cellular Communications in 1994 to AT&T for $12.6 billion, according to Forbes. He also led telecommunications companies Nextel and Clearwire. Forbes currently pegs his net worth at $1.8 billion.

Newsline: Russia protests Austrian decision to expel Russian diplomat

Russia’s embassy in Vienna protested on Monday over what it said was a groundless decision by Austrian authorities to expel a Russian diplomat, the TASS news agency reported. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-russia-austria-diplomat/russia-protests-austrian-decision-to-expel-russian-diplomat-tass-idUSKBN25K0V2) The Russian diplomat has been given until Sept. 1 to leave Austria, Austrian media were cited as saying on Friday.

Newsline: U.S. Embassy in Vienna partners with McDonald’s in Austria

Americans who find themselves in need of U.S. government assistance while in Austria can now seek help at one of almost 200 McDonald’s restaurants around the country. The U.S. Embassy in Vienna posted a photo on its Facebook page late last week heralding the new “Memorandum of Agreement” with the fast-food giant, under which restaurant staff will be trained to connect U.S. citizens to the embassy via a new hotline phone number. “American citizens traveling in Austria who find themselves in distress and without a way to contact the U.S. Embassy can enter – as of May 15, 2019 – any McDonald’s in Austria, and staff will assist them in making contact with the U.S. Embassy for consular services,” the embassy said. (https://www.cbsnews.com/news/us-embassy-mcdonalds-restaurants-austria-hotline-americans-consular-service-2019-05-15/) The service may to prove useful for Americans who lose their passports and either don’t have cellphones that work in Europe, or don’t have the means to find a phone number for the embassy.

Newsline: Austria to reopen embassy in Oman

Austria will reopen its embassy in Muscat early next year, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on Thursday. In an online statement, the ministry said, “The Republic of Austria will reopen its embassy in Muscat early next year, 2019. This came during the reception of His Excellency Yusif bin Alawi, Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs with Foreign Affairs Minister of the Republic of Austria Karin Kneissl, who is currently visiting the Sultanate. This would enhance bilateral relations between the two friendly countries in various fields.”


Newsline: 2 detained after shooting near Austrian Embassy in Turkey

Turkish authorities detained two people following a drive-by shooting near the Austrian Embassy in capital Ankara early Sunday. The governor’s office said in a statement the two suspects were detained and their weapon confiscated. It said the suspects were thought to be under the influence of alcohol.


Newsline: Russian Foreign Ministry summons Austrian ambassador

Russia’s Foreign Ministry has summoned Austrian Ambassador to Moscow Johannes Eigner over Vienna’s statements about a retired Austrian Army officer’s suspected involvement in espionage for Moscow, a ministry source told TASS. “The Russian Foreign Ministry has summoned the Austrian ambassador,” the source said. Media reports say that Austria has opened an investigation into a 70-year-old retired colonel, suspected of working for Russian intelligence agencies since the 1990s, providing Moscow with information about Austria’s air force, artillery and the migration crisis. If found guilty, the colonel may face two years in prison. Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and Defense Minister Mario Kunasek have confirmed the espionage investigation. Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl canceled visit to Russia over the espionage incident.


Newsline: Iranian diplomat in Austria held over Paris bomb plot

Austria is preparing to strip the diplomatic immunity from an Iranian envoy suspected of planning to bomb Iranian politicians in France. The diplomat and two other arrested people are suspected of plotting to attack a meeting of exiled opposition members in Paris last weekend. Tehran denies any involvement. The diplomatic tension comes a day before President Hassan Rouhani is due to arrive in Austria to discuss a disputed nuclear deal. Two Belgian nationals apprehended in Brussels are reported to be husband and wife, and to be of Iranian origin. The Iranian diplomat, identified as Assadollah A, is ordinarily based in the Austrian capital. But he was arrested in Germany.


Newsline: Austria Recalls Embassy Employee From Israel Over Nazi Shirt

Austria’s foreign ministry has recalled an employee of its embassy in Israel after an Austrian weekly said he posted a picture of himself on social media wearing a T-shirt bearing the name of a Nazi tank division. The Falter weekly published a screenshot of the attache’s Facebook page which shows him in a green shirt with the words “stand your ground” and “Frundsberg”. Frundsberg was a German Waffen SS armored division during World War Two. The attache, Juergen-Michael Kleppich, is a member of the far-right Freedom Party, which is a junior partner in Austria’s coalition government. He was sent to Tel Aviv in December to help out at the embassy for a few months, Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl told radio station ORF on Wednesday. Kleppich was summoned to Vienna to “clarify all circumstances” of the case, said Kneissl. It was not immediately clear whether he would be allowed to resume his post in due course.


Newsline: Knife attacker shot dead outide Iranian embassy in Vienna

Heightened security measures have been ordered at embassies and other diplomatic buildings in Vienna after a soldier stationed outside the residence of the Iranian ambassador to Austria shot dead a man who tried to stab him, police said on Monday. The 26-year-old assailant’s motive for the attack, which took place around 11:30 p.m. (2230 GMT), was unclear and video footage would be reviewed, a police spokesman said. “The attacker stabbed the soldier repeatedly. He was only saved by a stab-proof vest,” the spokesman said, adding that the two men ended up grappling on the ground. “The soldier defended himself well and was then able to reach for his service weapon and fire shots,” he added.