Displaying items by tag: Foreign Office
David Smith, a security guard at the British Embassy in Berlin, is accused and charged with passing classified documents to a Russian spy. Smith received a bundle of cash in return for providing reports to a Kremlin agent of counter-terrorism tactics in the event of an attack, details invaluable to enemy agents seeking embassy weaknesses in a city where Russian espionage is rife. Smith may have been blackmailed by Putin agents due to his 'extreme right-wing views'. Germany’s domestic intelligence service said Russian espionage is as active as it was during the Cold War. Questions will be raised about vetting procedures at the British embassy in Berlin, which is seen by Moscow as a prime intelligence target. Smith was hired directly by the embassy - not the Foreign Office in London. This spying case is part of growing attempts by Russian spies to infiltrate Western intelligence operations in recent months.
Anglican and Catholic leaders have made a joint submission to the Foreign Office’s independent review, requesting support for persecuted Christians. In a letter accompanying the submission the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, said that in many places ‘our Christian sisters and brothers face persecution of an intensity and extent unprecedented in many centuries.’ However, these threats to freedom of religion or belief are not restricted to Christians alone, but are widely experienced by followers of other faiths. ‘We ask the Government to take note of the practical recommendations offered in this submission and to take meaningful action not only in protecting Christians facing persecution but also in promoting freedom of religion and belief more widely,’ they said.
The Foreign Office (FO) has been recouping the cost of repatriating young women who were forced into marriages overseas, prompting charities to criticise it for making women ‘pay for their protection’. Many of the 82 victims of forced marriage repatriated in 2016-17 had to pay for living costs incurred between making distress calls and returning home, as well as their airfare; others received loans which they had to repay. They had to give up their passports until they had repaid the debt, with a surcharge added after six months. But many could not find work because potential employers wanted to see their passport, which the FO held. Four young British women imprisoned and tortured at a ‘correctional’ religious school in Somalia ahead of expected forced marriages had to pay £740 to return home; they said the burden of having to repay the loans contributed to their becoming destitute.