Iran accuses French police of slow reaction to attack on Paris embassy

Computers litter the pavement outside the Iranian Embassy in the French capital Paris on September 14, 2018, after people taking part in a demonstration in a near by street split off and walked to the Iranian embassy where they sprayed red paint on the Embassy sign and trashed computers that were placed outside the embassy grounds for collection. (AFP)
Updated 16 September 2018

Iran accuses French police of slow reaction to attack on Paris embassy

LONDON: Iran said on Saturday that Kurdish activists attacked its embassy in Paris and it accused French police of arriving late on the scene.
Paris police confirmed officers had responded to an incident at the embassy on Friday afternoon, but declined to comment on the speed of their response.
Fars news agency reported that about 15 Kurdish activists burned the Iranian flag in front of the embassy during the incident and broke some windows with stones.
They also threw fire extinguishers and computers at the gate but did not manage to enter the premises, Fars said.
“The French government should take all necessary measures to protect Iranian diplomatic missions in that country,” Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi was quoted as saying by the state news agency IRNA on Saturday.
“Unfortunately, the French police did not arrive as expected on the scene on time, although the assailants were members of a terrorist organization,” he said.
Qasemi said some of the attackers were arrested.
Paris police told Reuters that officers had detained a dozen individuals outside the embassy but that they were released when the embassy said it would not seek charges against them.
“A security detail was put in place with the embassy’s full agreement,” Paris police added.
However, Qasemi said Iran has asked France to put on trial and punish the assailants, and to inform the Iranian government of the verdicts.
Tehran has accused France of supporting opposition groups which seek the overthrow of the Islamic Republic and are classified by Tehran as terrorist organizations. France has rejected Iranian accusations.
Last week, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards fired seven missiles at the headquarters in northern Iraq of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI), an armed opposition group that fights for greater autonomy for Iran’s Kurdish community.
Iranian media said at least 11 people were killed.
France has already told its diplomats and foreign ministry officials to postpone indefinitely all non-essential travel to Iran, citing a hardening of Tehran’s attitude toward France.
France is also investigating a foiled plot to bomb a rally held by an exiled Iranian opposition group near Paris that was attended by US President Donald Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani on June 30.
An Iranian diplomat was arrested in Germany in connection with that plot.
Any hardening of relations with France could have wider implications for Iran. France has been one of the strongest advocates of salvaging a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, which Trump pulled out of in May.


Over 200,000 vote in Hong Kong’s pro-democracy primaries

Updated 57 min 47 sec ago

Over 200,000 vote in Hong Kong’s pro-democracy primaries

  • Exercise being held two weeks after Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law on the semi-autonomous territory

HONG KONG: Hundreds of thousands of Hong Kongers turned up over the weekend to vote in an unofficial two-day primary election held by the city’s pro-democracy camp as it gears up to field candidates for an upcoming legislative poll.
The exercise is being held two weeks after Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law on the semi-autonomous territory in a move widely seen as chipping away at the “one country, two systems” framework under which Britain handed Hong Kong over to China in 1997. It was passed in response to last year’s massive protests calling for greater democracy and more police accountability.
Throngs of people lined up at polling booths in the summer heat to cast their vote despite a warning by Hong Kong’s constitutional affairs minister, Eric Tsang last week that the primaries could be in breach of the new national security law, because it outlaws interference and disruption of duties by the local government.
Organizers have dismissed the comments, saying they just want to hold the government accountable by gaining a majority in the legislature.
The legislation prohibits what Beijing views as secessionist, subversive or terrorist activities or as foreign intervention in Hong Kong affairs. Under the law, police now have sweeping powers to conduct searches without warrants and order Internet service providers and platforms to remove messages deemed to be in violation of the legislation.
On Friday, police raided the office of the Public Opinion Research Institute, a co-organizer of the primary elections. The computer system was suspected of being hacked, causing a data leak, police said in a statement, and an investigation is ongoing.
Hong Kong’s pro-democracy camp, which includes multiple parties, is attempting to join forces and use the primaries as a guide to field the best candidates in the official legislative election in September. Its goal is to win a majority in the legislature, which is typically skewed toward the pro-Beijing camp.
To hold the primary elections, pro-democracy activists had raised money via crowd funding. They pledged to veto the government’s budget if they clinch a majority in the legislature. Under the Basic Law, under which Hong Kong is governed, city leader Carrie Lam must resign if an important bill such as the budget is vetoed twice.
On Saturday alone, nearly 230,000 people voted at polling booths set up across the city, exceeding organizers’ estimates of a 170,000 turnout over the weekend.