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U.N.’s Khashoggi Investigator Describes ‘Brazen’ Saudi Threat

A senior Saudi official made a public threat against a United Nations investigator looking into the killing of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018, according to the investigator, who decried the intimidation and violence she said defenders of human rights faced in carrying out their work.

The United Nations investigator, Agnès Callamard, detailed in a series of posts on Twitter on Friday how a “brazen” threat against her by the Saudi government official “took place in a high level diplomatic setting and it was made public, confirmed by the U.N.”

She said that the threat against her and “far greater daily intimidation and violence stalk all those on the front lines of human rights advocacy,” and called out those employing “bully boy tactics.”

“States must understand that behaving as thugs in New York and Geneva is no more acceptable there than in other countries’ capitals, or in their own hometowns,” she wrote. “Such a demand is essential as we are confronting a world of heightened tensions reminiscent of the Cold War era.”

In a post on Twitter, he said that it had come to his attention that Ms. Callamard and the United Nations “believe I somehow made a veiled threat against her more than a year ago.”

“I reject this suggestion in the strongest terms,” he wrote in a subsequent post. “While I cannot recall the exact conversations, I never would have desired or threatened any harm upon a U.N.-appointed individual, or anyone for that matter.”

He also added that he was “disheartened that anything I have said could be interpreted as a threat,” maintaining that he was “an advocate for human rights.”

Ms. Callamard first disclosed the threats made against her in an interview with The Guardian this week. Ms. Callamard said a colleague had relayed to her that a senior Saudi official, in a meeting in Geneva in January 2020 with United Nations officials, had threatened to have her “taken care of.”

she recounted harrowing details of his murder and dismemberment, and the cover-up of his killing by a team of Saudi operatives. Mr. Khashoggi, a Saudi dissident journalist who was a columnist for the Washington Post and a Virginia resident, was assassinated inside the consulate in October 2018.

Western intelligence agencies had already concluded that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, had ordered the killing. But the United Nations report offered in stark detail a recounting of the brutality behind the attack.

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Navalny’s Health Is Deteriorating in Prison, His Lawyers Say

MOSCOW — Aleksei A. Navalny, the imprisoned opposition leader who returned to Russia this year despite an earlier attempt on his life, is in deteriorating health with unexplained ailments and has received substandard medical care, his lawyers said on Thursday.

Prison doctors moved Mr. Navalny, 44, to a hospital for tests on Wednesday but offered no explanation for his complaints of severe back pain and numbness in one leg, and then returned him to the penal colony east of Moscow, said his lawyer, Olga Mikhailova.

“His health is extremely unfavorable, and every day gets worse,” she said in an interview after meeting Mr. Navalny in prison on Thursday. His right leg has numbed to the point he cannot put weight on it, she said. “We are afraid for his life and his health.”

Mr. Navalny collapsed into a coma on an airplane flight last August and was medically evacuated from Russia to Berlin. After extensive tests there, both the German and French governments, and international chemical weapons specialists, confirmed that he had been poisoned with a Soviet-designed military nerve agent, Novichok.

reported.

Prison doctors are not qualified to treat him, Ms. Mikhailova said, and she has filed appeals to move him to Moscow to be examined by a specialist. “His condition is worsening, not improving, with the treatment he is getting in prison,” she added.

His condition has been exacerbated by sleep deprivation, she said, with guards awakening him hourly, ostensibly to confirm his presence in the prison barracks, as he is classified as a flight risk.

After his poisoning, Mr. Navalny and the open-source investigative group Bellingcat studied phone records of Russian security service agents and other clues to reconstruct what they called an attempted assassination.

Mr. Navalny said the poison, which can be lethal to the touch, had been applied to the inside of a pair of his underpants. It was the same class of nerve agent that sickened several people in England and killed one of them in 2018, in what western intelligence agencies said was a failed attempt to kill Sergei V. Skripal, a former Russian spy.

In Germany, Mr. Navalny underwent months or rehabilitation and in interviews described harrowing neurological symptoms including disorientation and trouble walking. By late last year he said he had seemed to fully recover.

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Russia Erupts in Fury Over Biden’s Calling Putin a Killer

MOSCOW — Russia recalled its ambassador to the United States and unleashed a storm of derision aimed at President Biden after he said in a television interview that he thought President Vladimir V. Putin was a killer.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said late Wednesday that it had summoned its envoy in Washington, Anatoly I. Antonov, to Moscow “in order to analyze what needs to be done in the context of relations with the United States.”

“We are interested in preventing an irreversible deterioration in relations, if the Americans become aware of the risks associated with this,” the Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman, Maria V. Zakharova, said in a statement.

Ms. Zakharova did not specify whether a specific event had prompted the decision to recall Mr. Antonov, but the rare move came as Russian officials reacted with fury to an interview with Mr. Biden aired by ABC News. In the interview, when asked whether he thought Mr. Putin was a “killer,” Mr. Biden responded: “Mmm hmm, I do.”

post on Facebook on Thursday in reference to Mr. Biden’s interview. “Any expectations for the new U.S. administration’s new policy toward Russia have been written off by this boorish statement.”

Mr. Kosachev warned that Russia would respond further, without specifying how, to Mr. Biden’s comments “if explanations and apologies do not follow from the American side.”

quipping in December that if Russian agents had wanted to kill the opposition leader, “They would have probably finished the job.”

The Russian government has also been linked to attacks on foreign soil, including the poisoning of the former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in Salisbury, England, in 2018 and the shooting death of a former commander of Chechen separatists in Berlin the following year.

Mr. Putin signed a law in 2006 legalizing targeted killings abroad — legislation that Russian lawmakers said at the time was inspired by American and Israeli conduct.

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Colombia Seeks Justice for War Atrocities Via New Court

BOGOTÁ, Colombia — The testimony is searing. “They tied me to a tree,” said one victim of Colombia’s guerrilla. “They put us in a cage,” said another. “I was kidnapped for four years.”

“Until then, I had not heard of ‘mass graves,’” said a victim of the military. “Finally I understand that those in charge of protecting civilians killed thousands of Colombians.”

After decades of civil war, Colombia has created a historic postwar court designed to reveal the facts of a conflict that defined the nation for generations, morphing into the longest-running war in the Americas.

Thousands have testified. Wide-ranging investigations are underway. The first indictments were issued in January — and the first pleas are expected in April. Perpetrators will be punished, with those who admit responsibility receiving lesser, “restorative” sentences, like house arrest or remaining free while doing hard physical labor. Those who refuse to do so will face trial, and the possibility of decades in prison.

Special Jurisdiction for Peace, could help change the trajectory of a nation that has been at war for much of its history, with one conflict rolling almost immediately into the next.

Its failure could mean the repetition of that cycle.

“We have a window — a generational opportunity — to leave behind the insane violence we have lived in all our lives,” said Ingrid Betancourt, a former presidential candidate who was kidnapped and held by guerrillas, sometimes in chains, for more than six years. “I would like us to be able to open that window and let the light in.”

signed a peace deal that included the creation of the postwar court.

But if the goal of the court is to dig up buried truths, it is clear that this search is also exhuming and exacerbating longstanding divisions — and that the road to a common narrative, if one can be found, will be lined with conflict.

Some see the court as their best chance to find answers about lost loved ones, and the country’s best hope for peace; others are angered that assassins and kidnappers will not receive prison sentences; still others simply dismiss the court’s findings, saying the institution is biased in favor of the former guerrillas.

report by the court implicates the military in more than 6,400 civilian deaths from 2002 to 2008, during his presidency.

Mr. Uribe responded to the report by calling it an “attack” with “only one purpose,” “to discredit me personally.”

The court is held in an imposing black building on a main avenue in Colombia’s capital, Bogotá. Some testimony is public, and has been streamed on social media or released in public documents, offering a window into decades of suffering. To protect participants’ safety, much of it takes place behind closed doors.

first indictment, accusing eight top FARC leaders of orchestrating a kidnapping-for-ransom operation that lasted decades and resulted in more than 20,000 victims, many of them civilians, some of whom were raped or murdered. The kidnappings were used to fund the insurgency, said the court, and amounts to crimes against humanity.

The accused former FARC leaders have indicated that they will admit guilt. If they do, they will receive non-prison sentences, which could include up to eight years digging up old land mines or tracking down bodies. If they don’t admit guilt, they’ll face a trial and the possibility of decades behind bars.

They have until late April to reply to the court.

“We are assuming collective responsibility,” said Julián Gallo, who is among the indicted leaders, in an interview.

“These were practices that in some form delegitimized our fight,” he went on. “What we have asked for is forgiveness.”

scathing report that implicated officials in the intentional killing of at least 6,402 civilians when Mr. Uribe was in office.

The killings were part of a previously revealed strategy in which Colombian soldiers or their allies lured civilians from their homes with the promise of jobs, and then killed them and tried to pass off their deaths as combatant kills. Many of the victims were poor, some were mentally disabled.

The idea was to show that the government was winning the war.

responded to the court’s announcement by calling the numbers “inflated,” and an attempt to “delegitimize the commendable work” of the military.

Magistrates are expected to begin announcing indictments in that scandal later this year.

Mr. Uribe, who has repeatedly said he did he everything he could to stop the killings, is exempt from the court as a former president.

During one of the court’s public hearings, Jacqueline Castillo described how her brother Jaime, a civilian, disappeared one day in August of 2008, and reappeared days later in a mass grave far from home, identified by the military as a rebel killed in combat. She went to the grave, she said, and watched as men pulled her brother from the earth.

Before, she had idolized the Colombian military.

“They were my heroes,” she said, pressing her palm to her heart. “Now they make me sad.”

Sofía Villamil contributed reporting.

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For Biden, Deliberation and Caution, Maybe Overcaution, on the World Stage

But the early indications suggest that Mr. Biden is moving slower on the world stage than he is at home. And that is partly rooted in his belief, his national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said in an interview, that the United States will regain its global influence only after it has tamed the pandemic, restored economic growth and reset its relationships with allies.

The most telling of his decisions centers on Saudi Arabia. After banning the arms sales to halt what he called a “catastrophic” war in Yemen, Mr. Biden released an intelligence report about Prince Mohammed’s role in the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, the dissident journalist, and imposed new penalties on the crown prince’s personal royal guard, the so-called Rapid Intervention Force. But Mr. Biden stopped at the next step — barring travel by or threatening criminal prosecution of the 35-year-old crown prince.

The president had not told his staff in advance whether he favored direct action, even though he said in the campaign that the Saudi leadership had “no redeeming social value.”

Mr. Sullivan said he and his staff went to Mr. Biden with “a broad-based recommendation that a recalibration of the relationship, rather than a rupture of the relationship, was the right course of action.”

Mr. Biden, Mr. Sullivan said, “pressed us on our assumptions as he worked through the pros and cons of every aspect of the policy,” including the staff’s conclusion that keeping a channel open to the crown prince was the best path to “resolving the war in Yemen.”

But the final decision was a reminder, other aides said, that Mr. Biden emerged from his three decades in the Senate with both a belief in nurturing even the most difficult of alliances — and a dose of realism that the United States could not prevent the crown prince from becoming the next king.

“We deal, unfortunately, every single day with leaders of countries who are responsible for actions we find either objectionable or abhorrent, whether it’s Vladimir Putin, whether it’s Xi Jinping,” Antony J. Blinken, the secretary of state and Mr. Biden’s longest-serving foreign policy adviser, said on Wednesday on “PBS NewsHour.”

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