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Posts Tagged ‘Franco Frattini’

Gaddafi, Lies and Video Tape: Libya and the Rumor Mill

Posted by Admin on May 15, 2011

http://news.yahoo.com/s/time/20110514/wl_time/08599207152300;_ylt=Ar_gdLahkMDjCxsglLEGEilvaA8F;_ylu=X3oDMTJtMjUxODRmBGFzc2V0A3RpbWUvMjAxMTA1MTQvMDg1OTkyMDcxNTIzMDAEcG9zAzI5BHNlYwN5bl9hcnRpY2xlX3N1bW1hcnlfbGlzdARzbGsDZ2FkZGFmaWxpZXNh

Truth, as they say, is the first casualty of war. Yet even by those measures, the three-month Libyan conflict has brought a wealth of rumors.

Just five days after the revolt erupted in Benghazi, British Foreign Secretary William Hague told reporters that Gaddafi was headed to Venezuela. His remarks sparked a media frenzy, with journalists converging on Caracas to await Gaddafi’s arrival in exile. Three days later, on Feb. 24, commodities traders said that oil and gold prices had dropped due to rumors that Gaddafi had been injured. Oil prices dropped again on March 7, after rumors that Gaddafi was scrambling to negotiate an exile deal for himself. And on March 21, days after Western fighter jets began bombing Tripoli, a German newspaper reported that a rocket attack had killed Gaddafi’s son Khamis, whose military brigade has led the assault against Libyan rebels. So far, none of the rumors have proved true. (See TIME’s exclusive photos on the ground in Tripoli.)

The latest tale surfaced last Friday, when Italy’s Foreign Minister Franco Frattini told an Italian reporter that Muammar Gaddafi had fled Tripoli after being wounded in a NATO air strike on his compound the day before. Frattini said he heard the information from Tripoli’s Catholic Bishop Giovanni Martinelli, a Libyan-born Italian with close sources across the capital, thanks to his decades in the country. The Bishop, said Frattini, had said that “international pressure has apparently provoked a decision by Gaddafi to seek refuge in a safer place.”

The rumor lit up Twitter feeds and led to a few celebrations – premature ones. Within hours, Gaddafi went on state-run Libyan Television to tell his supporters that he was still alive, and to vow to survive the NATO campaign. “I live where you cannot reach and cannot kill me – in the hearts of millions of people,” Gaddafi said in a defiant challenge to the coalition. Bishop Martinelli denied the story Frattini attributed to him, telling a French radio station on Saturday that “I’ve never said he [Gaddafi] was injured or had left Tripoli.” (Watch Libya’s ragtag rebels in action.)

The speech included no video. An unnamed regime official told the Guardian newspaper on Saturday that Gaddafi was worried that video footage could help NATO bombers to pinpoint his exact whereabouts. Gaddafi’s statement on Friday was a stark contrast to his wartime television appearances, where he has summoned television crews to film him giving thundering diatribes against the rebels and Western governments. And unlike those hours-long speeches, he spoke for just 90 seconds, igniting speculation among rebel and exile groups that Gaddafi had indeed gone to ground.

Wounded or not, Gaddafi may soon have a legal reason to be out of sight. On Saturday, the International Criminal Court‘s prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo told a Spanish newspaper that he would seek arrest warrants for Gaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam, and his intelligence chief Abdullah Senoussi, when he goes before a judges’ panel in The Hague on Monday. If the warrants are issued, the three men would face extradition orders to stand trial in Holland, for having ordered security forces to open fire on unarmed demonstrators in Benghazi in mid-February. U.N. investigators claim that between 400 and 600 Libyans were killed in the first days of the revolt, before the rebels took up weapons, transforming the protest movement into a civil war.

Bringing Gaddafi and company to justice is going to be a tall order. But a warrant and NATO bombs are enough reasons for anyone to go into hiding.

See TIME’s photos of Gaddafi’s Tripoli.

See TIME’s special report “The Middle East in Revolt.”

View this article on Time.com

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US briefs allies about next WikiLeaks release

Posted by Admin on November 27, 2010

Julian Assange, WikiLeaks, at New Media Days 09

Julian Assange Founder - WikiLeaks

By JILL LAWLESS, Associated Press – 2 hrs 46 mins ago

LONDON – U.S. allies around the world have been briefed by American diplomats about an expected release of classified U.S. files by the WikiLeaks website that is likely to cause international embarrassment and could damage some nations’ relations with the United States.

The release of hundreds of thousands of State Department cables is expected this weekend, although WikiLeaks has not been specific about the timing. The cables are thought to include private, candid assessments of foreign leaders and governments and could erode trust in the U.S. as a diplomatic partner.

In Britain, Prime Minister David Cameron‘s spokesman, Steve Field, said Friday that the government had been told of “the likely content of these leaks” by U.S. Ambassador Louis Susman. Field declined to say what Britain had been warned to expect.

“I don’t want to speculate about precisely what is going to be leaked before it is leaked,” Field said.

In Washington, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said U.S. diplomats were continuing the process of warning governments around the world about what might be in the documents. Many fear the cables will embarrass the United States and its allies, and reveal sensitive details of how the U.S. conducts relations with other countries.

“We are all bracing for what may be coming and condemn WikiLeaks for the release of classified material,” he said. “It will place lives and interests at risk. It is irresponsible.”

The Obama administration on Friday warned that the WikiLeaksrelease would endanger “lives and interests.”

Italy’s foreign minister, Franco Frattini, said he spoke Friday with the U.S. State Department, which told him that there would be documents regarding Italy in the leak, “but the content can’t be anticipated.”

“We’re talking about thousands and thousands of classified documents that the U.S. will not comment on, as is their custom,” Frattini said.

The governments of Canada and Norway also said they had been briefed by U.S. officials. Israel’s Foreign Ministry declined to comment on a report that it, too, had been informed.

In Iraq, U.S. Ambassador James F. Jeffrey told reporters that the leaks represent a serious obstacle to international diplomacy.

“We are worried about additional documents coming out,” he said. “WikiLeaks are an absolutely awful impediment to my business, which is to be able to have discussions in confidence with people. I do not understand the motivation for releasing these documents. They will not help, they will simply hurt our ability to do our work here.”

In Norway, U.S. officials released a statement from the ambassador to the newspaper Dagbladet with the understanding that it would not be published until after the WikiLeaks material came out, but the newspaper published the material ahead of time.

It quoted U.S. Ambassador to Norway Barry White saying that, while he could not vouch for the authenticity of the documents, he expected them to contain U.S. officials’ candid assessments of political leaders and political movements in other countries. He said diplomats had to be able to have private, honest discussions to do their jobs.

The Obama administration said earlier this week that it had alerted Congress and begun notifying foreign governments that the whistle-blowing website is preparing to release a huge cache of diplomatic cables whose publication could give a behind-the-scenes look at American diplomacy around the world.

“These revelations are harmful to the United States and our interests,” U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said. “They are going to create tension in relationships between our diplomats and our friends around the world.”

Diplomatic cables are internal documents that would include a range of secret communications between U.S. diplomatic outposts and State Department headquarters in Washington.

WikiLeaks has said the release will be seven times the size of its October leak of 400,000 Iraq war documents, already the biggest leak in U.S. intelligence history.

The U.S. says it has known for some time that WikiLeaks held the diplomatic cables. No one has been charged with passing them to the website, but suspicion focuses on U.S. Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, an intelligence analyst arrested in Iraq in June and charged over an earlier leak.

Frattini, the Italian foreign minister, said Friday that he had been “told that the person responsible for this leak has been arrested.” The Italian Foreign Ministry later said Frattini was talking about Manning.

WikiLeaks, which also has released secret U.S. documents about the war in Afghanistan, was founded byJulian Assange.

The Australian former computer hacker is currently wanted by Sweden for questioning in a drawn-out rape probe. Assange, 39, is suspected of rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion. He has denied the allegations, which stem from his encounters with two women during a visit to Sweden.

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AP writers Rebecca Santana in Baghdad, Matthew Lee in Washington, and Bjoern H. Amland in Oslo contributed to this report.

 

 

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