It’s not just US-Russian relations that have devolved to the level of spontaneous diplomat expulsion. According to Reuters, New Zealand has expelled an attache at the U.S. Embassy after Washington refused to waive his right to diplomatic immunity in relation to a police investigation of a potentially serious crime, after an “incident” which gave him a broken nose and a black eye, media and authorities said. New Zealand Television said the man had worked alongside New Zealand’s intelligence service, the Government Communications Security Bureau, which is a member of the so-called Five Eyes signals-intelligence alliance binding the U.S., the U.K., Australia, New Zealand and Canada.
In other words, the unnamed diplomat was most likely a US spy – which would explain why the government refused to strip him of his immunity – who got into a fight, and quickly vacated the country.
New Zealand police said they responded to the incident near the capital Wellington on March 12 involving an employee of the U.S. Embassy. They did not say what work the employee did or give any other details. The U.S. government later declined a police request to waive the employee’s diplomatic immunity, the New Zealand Foreign Ministry said on Monday.
“Officials in Wellington and our Ambassador in Washington, D.C. have clearly conveyed to the United States the expectation that foreign diplomats obey the law in New Zealand and are seen to face justice in New Zealand,” Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully said in a statement Monday.
New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully announced the expulsion of the U.S. diplomat Monday
According to the WSJ, details of the alleged crime haven’t been revealed. Local media reports said the diplomat was a technical attaché who left the country last week with a broken nose and black eye after an altercation in Lower Hutt, a Wellington suburb. The man’s identity and alleged injuries couldn’t immediately be confirmed.
A U.S. Embassy spokesman in Wellington wouldn’t comment on the investigation, but said the mission is communicating with New Zealand authorities. “We take seriously any suggestion that our staff have fallen short of the high standards of conduct expected of U.S. government personnel,” he said. Mr. McCully said the U.S. State Department had assured the government that all the allegations made against the diplomat would be fully investigated.
Under the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, the 187 signatory nations guarantee that diplomatic, administrative and technical staff of embassies and other missions will receive “immunity from the criminal jurisdiction of the receiving State.” A New Zealand Police spokeswoman said officers were called to an incident in Lower Hutt’s Tirohanga area early on March 12, by which time the man had already left. Serious crimes, she said, carry a potential jail term of at least 12 months.
The New Zealand Herald at the weekend confirmed the man was an embassy attache and said he had left country with a broken nose and black eye. A spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy said it was in touch with New Zealand authorities.
“We take seriously any suggestion that our staff have fallen short of the high standards of conduct expected of U.S. government personnel,” the spokeswoman said.