Tag Archives: International / National Security

Italian prosecutors tried Salvini on charges of kidnapping migrants | Instant News


FILE PHOTOS: Right wing leader Matteo Salvini speaks during a press conference, in Catania, Italy, October 3, 2020. REUTERS / Antonio Parrinello

ROME (Reuters) – An Italian prosecutor officially on Saturday called on far-right League leader Matteo Salvini to stand trial for kidnapping over his decision to prevent more than 100 migrants from landing in the country in 2019.

Salvini’s decision, made while he was interior minister, left migrants stranded at sea until prosecutors ordered the seizure of the ship and the evacuation of those on board.

Salvini defended his actions on Saturday and said he was not worried about the prosecutor’s appeal that was part of a long-running legal process – the Italian Senate authorized the court to proceed with a kidnapping investigation last year.

“I am proud to have worked to protect my country, respect the law, wake up Europe and save lives. If this causes me trouble and suffering, I will gladly accept it, “Salvini wrote on Facebook.

During his 14 months as interior minister, Salvini stopped several ships from docking in Italy in an attempt to stop the flow of migrants. He regularly accuses migrant rescue charities of effectively encouraging people smuggling.

He could face up to 15 years in prison if convicted at the end of a tortuous three-stage trial. Confidence that could definitely deter him from government office.

Prosecutors asked for the charges at a preliminary hearing in Sicily’s capital, Palermo. The final decision on whether to proceed remains with the senior judge.

Open Arms, the charity that operates the migrant rescue ship at the heart of the case, said it supported the prosecution’s plea.

“Violating the rights of vulnerable people is a crime in any democratic country,” he wrote on Twitter.

Reporting by Angelo Amante; Edited by Andrew Heavens

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The Australian PM said the Quad was meeting to discuss the Indo-Pacific, COVID-19, climate change | Instant News


FILE PHOTO: Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison arrives at Haneda airport in Tokyo, Japan, 17 November 2020. REUTERS / Issei Kato

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the first meeting of the leaders of the “Quad” will discuss security challenges across the Indo-Pacific, climate change and efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the region.

US President Joe Biden and the prime ministers of Australia, India and Japan will hold an online meeting on Saturday morning Australian time in what Morrison says will be a “historic moment”.

“It will be in the small hours tomorrow morning, but I can assure you that I will be bright-eyed as we are involved in what will be a very important meeting for Australia,” Morrison told reporters in Sydney.

“There are lots of other meetings, but when governments come together at the highest levels, it represents a whole new level of cooperation to create new anchors for peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific.”

India, the United States, Japan and Australia are members of the Quad, an informal group that Washington has promoted to work as a potential bulwark against China’s growing political, commercial and military activity in the Indo-Pacific, diplomats said.

The virtual engagement is expected to last about two hours and lay the groundwork for an in-person meeting later this year, a senior US official told Reuters earlier this week.

Morrison said the talks would also include plans to achieve future zero net emissions targets as countries in the region shift to new energy economies.

Efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the Indo-Pacific will also be discussed as the group plans to announce a financing agreement to support increased production capacity of the corona virus vaccine in India.

Reporting by Renju Jose; Edited by Lincoln Feast.

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Australia to research foreign research collaborations on ‘new’ technology | Instant News


SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia will compile a list of critical and emerging technologies that are subject to restrictions on foreign research collaboration, a parliamentary intelligence committee heard on Thursday.

Security agencies have screened for international collaborations on military technology or dual use by universities but in a review led by the Prime Minister’s office and home affairs, other new technologies that pose economic risks will be identified.

The director general of the Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO), Mike Burgess, said it was a departure from past practice that economic competition was being considered in national interest assessments.

“The global situation is pushing us in that direction, but that doesn’t mean we want to be fully protectionist as a nation,” he told the parliament’s intelligence and security committee.

The committee is conducting an investigation into the national security risk to the university, and many of the submissions have focused on China, where many students come from.

Burgess said admitting international students was important to the Australian economy and diversity of thought at the university.

ASIO is investigating covert attempts by foreign countries to acquire Australian intellectual property and security agencies had 60 interactions with universities last year, he said.

Burgess said China has been open about its ambition in technology research and its Thousand Talent Program, to recruit people familiar with foreign technology and intellectual property, “of its own accord”.

“This is a natural extension of China’s strategic plans to become world leaders in technology and secure their economic and military advantages,” he said.

In the United States, several researchers at universities and NASA have been accused by the US Department of Justice of lying about their involvement in the Thousand Talent Program.

The United States adopted legislation to identify and limit the sharing of critical and emerging technologies with China in 2018.

Burgess did not identify China but said one foreign country had been very active in attempts to intervene in Australia, including cyber intrusions.

Burgess said he regularly held discussions with Five Eyes’ intelligence partners, which include the United States, Canada, Britain and New Zealand, as well as other allies, who share the same concerns about foreign interference as Australia.

In a written submission, ASIO described the researchers and their families as being threatened by actors wanting to have sensitive research provided to a foreign country.

Reporting by Kirsty Needham; Edited by Robert Birsel

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EU Sefcovic briefs US lawmakers on the riddle of Northern Ireland’s Brexit | Instant News


DUBLIN (Reuters) – European Union Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic and Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney briefed the influential Irish-American caucus at the US Congress on Wednesday on Britain’s unilateral shift to Northern Ireland’s Brexit arrangements.

The fate of Northern Ireland, which is closely watched by US President Joe Biden, has become the most hotly contested Brexit issue.

While campaigning in last year’s presidential election, Biden bluntly warned Britain that it must respect Northern Ireland’s 1998 peace agreement because it withdraws from the EU or there won’t be a separate US trade deal.

London finally agreed to a protocol that aligns the UK-administered territory with the single EU market for goods when it exits the bloc’s orbit. This requires an inspection of some items arriving there from elsewhere in Great Britain.

The extension of Britain’s unilateral grace period at last week’s hearings has resulted in pledges of legal action from the EU and accusations from Ireland that its neighbor is not acting like a “respectable nation”.

The caucus meeting considered “Britain’s unilateral steps in implementing the Protocol” and discussed Northern Ireland’s “unique opportunities” due to its full access to EU and UK markets, Coveney said in a statement.

“The EU and the US have been firm partners in the peace process,” said Coveney. “I want to thank the members of the Caucus for their engagement today and their continued support for the Good Friday Agreement.”

The agreement largely ended three decades of violence between mostly Catholic nationalists fighting for a united Ireland and mostly Protestant union members, or loyalists, who wanted Northern Ireland to remain part of Britain.

Coveney has sought support from US lawmakers during the Brexit process and Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin will speak with President Biden next week in lieu of the St Patrick’s Day bilateral meeting at the White House.

The Friends of Ireland caucus, a bipartisan group on Capitol Hill that is considering a Brexit debate on Ireland’s behalf before Northern Ireland’s protocol is agreed in 2019, is seeking direction from Sefcovic and Coveney, the European Commission said.

The group is chaired by Democrat Richard Neal, who is also chair of the Congressional committee overseeing trade.

Reporting by Padraic Halpin and Conor Humphries in Dublin and Philip Blenkinsop in Brussels; Edited by Nick Macfie and Toby Chopra

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Australian Treasury Wine signs licensing deals for US brands | Instant News


FILE PHOTO: Bottles of Penfolds Grange, a Treasury Wine Estates brand, sold at a wine shop in Sydney, Australia, August 4, 2014. REUTERS / David Gray

(Reuters) – Treasury Wine Estates Ltd said on Wednesday the US-based Wine Group would sell several Australian company brands made in the United States.

The deal comes as Treasury Wine, the world’s largest registered wine maker, plans to overhaul its business as it is hampered by the impact of high Chinese tariffs on Australian wines.

China last year imposed anti-dumping tariffs on Australian wines, citing complaints about foreign investment, national security and human rights policies, after Australia led calls for an international investigation into the coronavirus.

Wine Group, owner of the Franzia and Cupcake Vineyards, will source and sell the Beringer Main & Vine brands from Treasury Wine, Beringer Founders’ Estate, Coastal Estates and Meridian in America.

During the six months to December 31, the brands contributed A $ 92 million ($ 71 million) in net Treasury Wine revenue and A $ 13.5 million in gross profit.

The company said the deal would generate around A $ 100 million in funding.

Treasury Wine said Beringer remains a core brand in its portfolio and will not discard the brand as part of this deal or any future transactions.

The company’s shares surged earlier this week after reports that it was approaching a takeover by French alcoholic beverage maker Pernod Ricard or a US private equity firm.

($ 1 = 1.2955 Australian dollars)

Reporting by Shashwat Awasthi in Bengaluru; Edited by Shinjini Ganguli and Shounak Dasgupta

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