French Senate official arrested for ‘North Korea spying’

The Paris prosecutor was investigating him over the “collection and delivery of information to a foreign power likely to undermine the fundamental interests of the nation.” (File/AFP)
Updated 27 November 2018
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French Senate official arrested for ‘North Korea spying’

  • He has written frequent articles on North Korea and traveled extensively throughout the peninsula, according to the website of his publisher Delga
  • Daily television show Quotidien reported that his Senate office had been raided

PARIS: Intelligence agencies have arrested a senior French civil servant on suspicion of spying for North Korea, a judicial source in Paris said.
Benoit Quennedey, the president of the Franco-Korean Friendship Association who has written a book on the isolated nation, was placed in custody on Sunday.
The Paris prosecutor was investigating him over the “collection and delivery of information to a foreign power likely to undermine the fundamental interests of the nation,” said a judicial source on Monday.
Investigators from France’s DGSI domestic intelligence agency are looking into whether Quennedey provided information to Pyongyang, the source said.
Daily television show Quotidien reported that his Senate office had been raided. The inquiry began in March.
According to the Senate website, Quennedey is a senior administrator in France’s upper house of parliament in the department of architecture, heritage and gardens.
He has written frequent articles on North Korea and traveled extensively throughout the peninsula, according to the website of his publisher Delga.
The Franco-Korean Friendship Association pushes for closer ties with North Korea and supports the reunification of the divided Koreas.
North Korea under Kim Jong Un is under strict economic sanctions aimed at forcing the regime to abandon its nuclear missile program.
Ties with the South and the United States have improved markedly since Kim and US President Donald Trump held a historic summit in Singapore in June but the US is still pushing to maintain sanctions until Pyongyang’s “final, fully verified denuclearization.”
In an interview posted on YouTube in August, Quennedey welcomed the easing of tensions.
The president of the Senate declined to comment to AFP.


South Sudan vaccinates health teams in Ebola epidemic

Updated 10 December 2018
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South Sudan vaccinates health teams in Ebola epidemic

  • The ministry of health’s vaccination campaign, with cooperation from the WHO, will target health care and frontline workers in the high-risk states of Juba, Yei, Yambio and Nimule

NAIROBI: South Sudan will vaccinate key health workers against Ebola close to the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo, which faces a new epidemic, the World Health Organization said Monday.
The ministry of health’s vaccination campaign, with cooperation from the WHO, will target health care and frontline workers in the high-risk states of Juba, Yei, Yambio and Nimule, the UN agency said in a statement.
South Sudan is one of several countries bordering the vast DRC, where the new outbreak of the highly contagious viral disease had since August claimed 271 lives by December 6, according to Congolese Health Minister Oly Ilunga Kalenga.
A total of 2,160 doses of the experimental vaccine rVSV-ZEBOV have been allocated to South Sudan for a program starting on December 19. This trial vaccine is not yet licensed but is considered safe and provided “under the compassionate-use guidelines in response to the ongoing Ebola outbreak in DRC,” the WHO said.
Like neighboring Uganda, where similar measures have been taken for health personnel, South Sudan has declared a state of alert because of the risk that Ebola may be carried into its territory. At present, no cases have been reported, according the WHO.
The experimental vaccine first went on trial during the terrible epidemic of Ebola that ravaged parts of West Africa between the end of 2013 and 2016, at a cost of more than 11,300 lives. The disease spreads through contact with bodily fluids from other people or infected animals.
The vaccine was created by Canadian public health specialists at the National Microbiology Laboratory and is considered highly effective by the WHO, but it works only against the Ebola virus-Zaire strain, confirmed in the outbreak in the DRC.
South Sudan has been torn by civil war for five years in a conflict that has left nearly 400,000 dead. More than four million people — about a third of the population — have fled.
The main belligerents signed a peace accord in September, but the work of humanitarian organizations remains complicated and dangerous.
Participants in the vaccination program have been trained on rVSV-ZEBOV and undertaken a simulation exercise. Meanwhile, the Ebola preparedness contingency plan covers measures ranging from screening travelers, community engagement and provision for safe and dignified funerals, the WHO said.