EU agrees Russia sanctions over Navalny poisoning

Alexei Navalny stands near law enforcement agents in the hallway of a business center, which houses the office of his Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK), in Moscow, December 26, 2019. (AFP)
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Updated 14 October 2020

EU agrees Russia sanctions over Navalny poisoning

  • UN’s chemical weapons watchdog OPCW confirmed Germany, France and Sweden’s finding that Navalny was poisoned
  • A poison from the same group was used to attack former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in England in 2018

BRUSSELS: The EU agreed Wednesday to impose sanctions on six people and one entity over the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny with a Novichok nerve agent, diplomats told AFP.
Ambassadors from the 27 EU countries approved sanctions after France and Germany proposed measures last week, saying Russia was responsible for the poisoning.
In line with usual EU practice, those targeted by the sanctions — travel bans and asset freezes — will not be named until the measures take legal effect on Thursday, but they are likely to be Russian officials.
Paris and Berlin said last week they wanted to target individuals “based on their official function” and an entity “involved in the Novichok program.”
European powers have repeatedly asked Moscow to investigate the poisoning, which took place on Russian soil, but in a joint statement last week the French and German foreign ministers said the Kremlin had come up with “no credible explanation.”
The move to punish Russia came after the UN’s chemical weapons watchdog OPCW confirmed Germany, France and Sweden’s finding that Navalny was poisoned by a nerve agent of the Soviet-developed Novichok group.
A poison from the same group was used to attack former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in England in 2018 — an incident that prompted the EU to sanction four members of the Kremlin’s military intelligence.
The latest measures were signed off politically by EU foreign ministers on Monday, a move hailed by Germany’s Heiko Maas.
“I believe it is of paramount importance in the light of such a serious crime — a violation of international law and the chemical weapons convention — that the European Union shows unity, and it has done so today,” he said.
EU diplomatic chief Josep Borrell pressed Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on the Navalny case during phone talks on Tuesday.
Borrell’s office said he called for Moscow to “do its utmost to investigate this crime thoroughly in full transparency” and cooperate with the OPCW.
Lavrov on Wednesday criticized the measures, accusing the EU of bowing to US pressure and “replacing the art of diplomacy with sanctions.”
“Of course the current policy of the EU will not go without consequences,” Lavrov warned at a news conference in Moscow.


US judge delays extradition of Carlos Ghosn's accused escape plotters to Japan

Updated 29 October 2020

US judge delays extradition of Carlos Ghosn's accused escape plotters to Japan

  • Prosecutors say the Taylors facilitated a "brazen" escape in which Ghosn fled Japan on Dec. 29, 2019
  • Ghosn was awaiting trial on charges that he engaged in financial wrongdoing

BOSTON: A federal judge on Thursday granted a last-minute request to stop the US government from turning over to Japan two Massachusetts men to face charges that they helped smuggle former Nissan Motor Co Chairman Carlos Ghosn out of the country while he was awaiting trial on financial crimes.
US District Judge Indira Talwani in Boston granted a request by lawyers for US Army Special Forces veteran Michael Taylor and his son, Peter Taylor, to delay the transfer shortly before the two men were scheduled to be placed on a flight to Japan.
Their lawyers sought the delay after the State Department approved handing over the men, who in September lost a court challenge to their potential extradition. They were arrested in May at the request of Japanese authorities.
Taylors' lawyers and the State Department did not respond to requests for comment.
Prosecutors say the Taylors facilitated a "brazen" escape in which Ghosn fled Japan on Dec. 29, 2019, hidden in a box and on a private jet before reaching Lebanon, his childhood home, which has no extradition treaty with Japan.
Ghosn was awaiting trial on charges that he engaged in financial wrongdoing, including by understating his compensation in Nissan's financial statements. Ghosn denies wrongdoing.
The State Department notified the Taylors' lawyers of its decision on Wednesday.
US Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi, a Republican who has taken interest in the case, wrote on Twitter that he was "outraged" by the State Department's decision to extradite the two men. "This former Special Forces member and his son will not be treated fairly," he said.