US summons Syrian ambassador for spying on protesters
July 11, 2011 1 Comment
By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
American government officials acknowledged late last week that they warned Syria’s ambassador to Washington to stop his diplomats from spying on anti-government activists operating in the United States. The State Department said that Eric Boswell, Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security, summoned the ambassador of the Syrian Arab Republic, Imad Moustapha, and conveyed “a number of [...] concerns with [...] reported actions of certain Syrian embassy staff in the United States”. The concerns center on what appear to be confirmed sightings of Syrian diplomats conducting technical surveillance against Syrian and American citizens participating in demonstrations and other legal political activities in several US cities. There are also reports that intelligence gathered by Syrian diplomats in the United States is used by the Syrian security services in Syria to intimidate family members of Syrian and Syrian-American dissidents who are active in the United States. According to The Washington Times, the State Department was first alerted to the alleged political surveillance by the activists themselves, who began noticing in June the presence of suspected Syrian government informants in their Washington gatherings. The activists took photographs of the suspected informants and eventually confirmed that several of them worked for the Syrian embassy in Washington. Similar incidents were later reported by Syrian anti-government groups in other US cities, including Los Angeles, Michigan and New Jersey. Eventually, the group Arab-Americans for Democracy in Syria (AADS) filed a formal complaint with the US Department of State, which led to the summoning of the Syrian ambassador last week. AADS director Hamdi Rifai told The Times that the US government is “actively considering placing restrictions on the movement of Ambassador Moustapha amongst other remedies to the situation”. This, however, may prompt tit-for-tat actions against US diplomatic personnel in Damascus, notes the paper.