Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for Spain

Newsline: Spain summons Iran ambassador over protests crackdown

Spain summoned the Iranian ambassador to express its opposition to the heavy-handed crackdown on mass demonstrations across Iran that have claimed dozens of lives, a diplomatic source said. In a statement, the ministry expressed Spain’s “absolute condemnation” of the violence against peaceful demonstrators and in particular its “abhorrence of the violence against Iranian woman and their rights”. “The foreign ministry has summoned the Iranian ambassador in Madrid to express its objection over the repression of the protests and the violation of women’s rights,” the source said. (https://www.thelocal.es/20220928/spain-summons-iran-ambassador-over-protests-crackdown/) It urged the Iranian authorities to carry out “an independent investigation (into the bloodshed) and to establish responsibility in a transparent, objective and thorough manner” while “ending all arbitrary arrests” of journalists and other citizens exercising their civic freedoms.

Newsline: Top Pakistani Diplomat Involved In Visa Scam In Europe

A high-ranking Pakistani diplomat, who faced serious allegations of human smuggling in March, is at the core of a visa scam as he tried to persuade the European embassies in Islamabad to illegally get visas for Pakistan nationals. A complaint was filed against the high-ranking Pakistani diplomat Israr Husain by Tariq Javid Khan, a former government servant who is in the visa business. Several emails issued to different embassies along with proofs of payment made to the accused diplomat were attached to the application, The News International reported. (https://www.ndtv.com/world-news/top-pak-diplomat-involved-in-visa-scam-in-europe-report-3215112) Husain used to work as an additional secretary of Europe and he would try to persuade the European embassies in Islamabad to get visas for Pakistan nationals. He allegedly tried to send around 11 individuals to Spain. Husain had earlier also served as Pakistan’s ambassador in Czech Republic. Khan alleged that Husain “made an offer to facilitate the issuance of visit, work and residency visas for Italy, the Czech Republic, Spain, Poland and South Korea. He also introduced me to the ambassadors of these countries in Pakistan.” He added that he has the complete record of all payments he made to Hussain in the form of bank receipts, local media reported. The visa was not issued and the Pakistani diplomat had refused to return the money and warned him of dire consequences in case the word went out. The complaint added that the ambassador of Italy, Czech Republic and Spain “will be happy to confirm Husain’s disorderly conduct and they will provide evidence regarding his continuous requests for the illegal issuances of visas.” A formal complaint regarding Husain’s deceptive conduct was submitted to the foreign office by the ambassador of Czech Republic in Pakistan and the ambassador of Pakistan in Czech Republic.

Newsline: U.S. Embassy issues warning of increased sexual assault risk in Spain

The United States Embassy in Madrid issued a security alert for American travelers visiting Spain. “The U.S. Embassy and Consulate General urge U.S. citizen students and visitors to take precautions against sexual assault during their stay in Spain,” the alert reads. (https://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/news/2020/02/05/spain-sexual-assaults-rise-u-s-embassy-warns/4667505002/) According to the alert posted on the Embassy’s website, the Spanish Ministry of Interior has reported a steady increase in sexual assaults in the Iberian nation over the past five years. That rise includes an uptick in the number of sexual assaults of young U.S. citizens visiting or studying all over Spain. The alert comes just over a month after Spanish authorities arrested three Afghan men on suspicion that they sexually assaulted three sisters from Ohio on New Year’s Eve in Murcia, a city in southeast Spain, according to the Associated Press. The men were students as was one of the women.

Newsline: Spain’s, UK foreign ministries cooperates to repatriate nationals from Wuhan

A group of Spanish citizens will fly back from the Chinese city of Wuhan in the coming hours as part of a joint repatriation operation with the United Kingdom amid concerns over coronavirus, Spain’s foreign ministry said on Thursday. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-health-spain/spain-to-repatriate-nationals-from-wuhan-in-cooperation-with-uk-idUSKBN1ZT1WG) Spain’s Health Minister Salvador Illa said earlier that the group of around 20 Spaniards will spend 14 days in quarantine when they return to the country.

Newsline: Bolivia prosecutor seeks Spain response over embassy spat

Bolivia’s attorney general has pushed forward a probe into Spanish officials the South American country’s government alleges were seeking to help allies of ousted leftist leader Evo Morales who are holed up in the Mexican embassy in La Paz. The prosecutor said it had sought information on why Spanish officials, on a December visit to the embassy in Bolivia, were accompanied by Spanish tactical police. The incident sparked a diplomatic stand-off and Bolivia expelled Mexico’s ambassador and several Spanish officials. Spain responded with a similar measure. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-bolivia-diplomacy/bolivia-prosecutor-seeks-spain-response-over-embassy-spat-idUSKBN1Z8005) The affair has tested Bolivia’s caretaker government, which took power after Morales resigned under pressure in November after widespread protests, evidence of electoral fraud and waning support from military and police. The government of interim President Jeanine Anez claims that Spanish security forces had tried to hide their identity to gain access to the Mexican embassy, which granted asylum to Morales’ backers including former senior aide Juan Ramon Quintana.

Newsline: Spain orders Bolivian diplomats to leave

The Spanish government declared three Bolivian diplomats “personae non gratae”, after Bolivia’s interim president, Jeanine Anez, said the country would expel Mexico’s ambassador and two Spanish diplomats. Spain’s move came after Bolivia accused the Spanish diplomats of attempting to infiltrate the Mexican mission in the capital, La Paz, accompanied by masked men in order to extract the former aide to ex-president Evo Morales, who resigned in November after weeks of protests over corruption. “This group of representatives of the governments of Mexico and Spain have gravely injured the sovereignty and dignity of the Bolivian people and its constitutional government”, Anez said on 30 December, and gave the Mexican and Spanish diplomats 72 hours to leave the country. Previously, Mexico said it will file a complaint against the interim government of Bolivia at the International Court of Justice at The Hague. Its foreign ministry explained that the buildup of security agents around the Mexican ambassador’s residence violates his rights, established under international treaties. Spain has denied it tried to extract the former Morales aide. As a security measure, Spanish diplomats in their own country are sometimes accompanied by bodyguards wearing masks. “Spain categorically rejects any insinuation of presumed willingness to interfere in Bolivia’s internal political affairs”, the government said, and denied that “there was any aim to facilitate the exit of people holed up inside the building”. (https://www.neweurope.eu/article/spain-orders-bolivian-diplomats-to-leave/) Last month, Bolivia issued an arrest warrant for Morales, accusing him of “sedition, terrorism and the financing of terrorism”. He accepted Mexico’s offer of political asylum and stayed a month in there before moving to Argentina.

Newsline: Bolivia boots Spanish diplomats who visited Mexican mission

Spanish officials involved in a diplomatic incident left Bolivia amid accusations that they tried to help former high-ranking members of deposed President Evo Morales’ administration exit the country. Bolivian Interior Minister Arturo Murillo asked the Spaniards to leave even though Spain denied allegations that diplomat Cristina Borreguero and five of her colleagues were trying to help the officials out of the Mexican ambassador’s residence, where they have been holed up since Morales stepped down last month. (https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/world/article/Bolivia-boots-Spanish-diplomats-who-visited-14937846.php) The acting Bolivian government has initiated criminal charges against the officials for sedition, terrorism and electoral fraud and has refused to allow them safe passage out of the country.

Newsline: Spain to probe Mexico embassy incident that outraged Bolivia

The Spanish government is to send a team of investigators to Bolivia to establish why its diplomatic staff tried to sneak into the Mexican embassy in La Paz. Madrid said on Saturday it would probe a complaint from Bolivia’s foreign ministry who described the incident, which took place a day earlier, as a violation of its sovereignty. In a media briefing, Bolivian Foreign Minister Karen Longaric said senior Spanish diplomatic staff were escorted by hooded people and had acted “in a secretive and underhand manner” to enter Mexico’s diplomatic residence in La Paz. (https://www.dw.com/en/spain-to-probe-mexico-embassy-incident-that-outraged-bolivia/a-51822678) She questioned the motive for the pair to make the visit “accompanied by people with their faces covered and presumably armed?” It was not clear if Bolivia had derailed an attempt by Bolivian officials — who served under ousted president Evo Morales and who had sought refuge in the Mexican embassy — to leave the compound.

Newsline: WikiLeaks’ Assange testifies in embassy spying case

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Friday testified in his legal case against a Spanish private security firm that he claims spied on him while he was holed up in the Ecuadoran embassy in London. Assange, who is currently serving time at a high-security prison in Britain, was to answer questions from a judge at Spain’s National Court in Madrid, testifying by videoconference from Westminster Magistrates Court in London, his legal team said. (https://www.france24.com/en/20191220-wikileaks-assange-testifies-in-embassy-spying-case) Spain’s top criminal court is investigating whether Undercover Global Ltd, which was responsible for security at the embassy, spied on Assange and passed on information to the United States. The case is key to Assange’s efforts to fight an extradition request by the US Justice Department which is pushing to have him put on trial for leaking hundreds of thousands of secret US military and diplomatic documents in 2010. “The case being investigated in Spain states that Mr Assange has been subjected to widespread interference on a massive scale by the American authorities, violating his confidential communications with his lawyers, among other rights,” his legal team said. “The information gathered by this firm — through the alleged use of video cameras which also captured audio, hidden microphones, copying identity documents, monitoring the electronic devices and mobile phones of visitors, among other things — ended up in the hands of the US intelligence services.” There was a “huge body of evidence” to back the claim, coming from both company data as well as from protected witnesses who were formerly employed by the firm, the source said. As well as installing cameras, Undercover Global is suspected of installing microphones in places as diverse as the base of a fire extinguisher and in the women’s toilets, where Assange held many meetings for fear of being spied on. They were allegedly able to record discussions with his lawyers as well as details of medical visits, with the information then transferred to servers that were accessible to the US intelligence services. His legal team said that given the alleged spying at the embassy, it “underlines the need for the British judicial system to refuse to hand him over to the United States” where there were no guarantees for his safety.

Newsline: Spain: Court probes spying of Assange at Ecuadorean embassy

Spain’s National Court said Wednesday it is investigating a Spanish security firm that worked for the Ecuadorean Embassy in London on suspicion that it spied on WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for U.S. secret services during the seven years he spent in the embassy. The court said it is investigating whether David Morales and his Undercover Global S.L. security agency invaded Assange’s privacy and that of his lawyers by installing hidden microphones and other devices in the embassy. (http://www.startribune.com/spain-court-probes-spying-of-assange-at-ecuadorean-embassy/562627142/) It said the information gathered appeared to have been passed on to Ecuadorean and U.S. bodies. Assange is jailed in London, fighting extradition to the United States on espionage charges. He was given asylum in the embassy for some seven years after jumping bail in 2012 when Sweden sought his extradition on sexual misconduct allegations. Court documents said Morales and his firm, based in the southern Spanish town of Jerez de la Frontera, were also under investigation for bribery and money laundering. The court opened the investigation in August following a complaint by Assange and his defense team, but did not release the information until Wednesday as it had placed a secrecy order on the case. A court official confirmed that Morales was arrested last month but is on conditional release.