US Embassy Egypt: 1,200 Evacuees to Cyprus, Greece and Turkey on Day#1

'Le Sphinx Armachis, Caire' (The Sphinx Armach...Image by National Media Museum via Flickr

U.S. citizens in Egypt who require assistance, or those who are concerned that their U.S. citizen loved one in Egypt may require assistance, should contact the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Embassy in Cairo at:

EgyptEmergencyUSC@state.gov
1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada
1-202-501-4444 for callers outside the United States and Canada

We have tried to keep tabs of the evac flights taking American evacuees (non-essential personnel, dependents and private Amcits) out of Egypt today. Here is what we know: approximately 1,200 people were evacuated from Cairo on Monday, January 31st with the first flight going to Larnaca, Cyprus. An additional two flights also went to Larnaca.  Three flights departed for Athens and three more flights left for Istanbul. So nine flights and some 1,200 people on day #1 of the evacuation.

A note on the posts staffing since they would constitute the immediate support at this time at the safe-havens: The US Embassy in Nicosia is a medium-size post with a two-officer consular section.  Post is noted for the work it did during the 15,000 Amcit evacuation out of Lebanon in 2006. The US posts in Turkey (Ankara, Istanbul, Adana) have approximately 16 officers and 30 or so local employees.  (FS blogger, the slow move east is in Istanbul, get some sleep now, hannah!). Not sure how big is the consular section in Athens but it is presumably comparable or even larger  than Turkey. Of course, posts normally draft other officers in the mission and not just Consular Officers to staff round the clock duties like this. 

We also understand that Consular Affairs is sending over three dozens consular officers to Cairo and the safe-haven locations. But unless they left yesterday, a Sunday, they could still be in route to their destinations today.

We’re hearing that there will be more flights for tomorrow, Tuesday, February 1—also from Cairo Airport, throughout the day. We’ll keep you posted if we know more.

An update on our FS blogger in Cairo: The Sherwood Family Nonsense told us that they (she and three kids) have arrived safely in Athens, while their FSO remained at the Cairo airport assisting evacuees out of Egypt. Excerpt:

We’re in Athens, some went to Istanbul, some went to Bahrain, and perhaps some other places.  The rumor was that twelve planes were chartered to shuttle people out.  We were number four and arrived in Athens at 9:00 pm.  We got to our hotel at midnight.

We were all very much surprised about the evacuation, as evident by my post about the situation a few days ago, nobody thought that things would downgrade so quickly.  I wanted to stay very much, but we had some friends in the branch whose advice I trust very much strongly advise us to go, so we went.  I hoped until the very last minute that it would be called off and we could stay, but now we’re here and there’s no returning for thirty days.  Sometimes I catch myself thinking that perhaps it will all clear up and we can stay… but of course we’re already gone.

Read more from her post here.


 

 


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First Flights Out of Egypt and Other Evacuation Questions and Answers

It’s after 6 pm in Cairo right now.  We understand that the first flights carrying evacuees of US government dependents & non-emergency employees, as well as private U.S. citizens left Egypt for Larnaca, Cyprus around mid-day today.  Five other flights were filling up for various safe-haven posts. By mid-afternoon, another two flights left for Athens.  We expect this will be a very long day for embassy folks in Cairo, Nicosia, Istanbul and Athens.  And could go on for many, many more days.

An FS blogger (from a family of five) has last posted about the events in Cairo on January 25 and had an unrelated post on Jan 29 but we have not seen any new post since then. Cairo is one of the State Department’s largest posts. It is a fully accompanied post – that means there are spouses/partners and children of all ages.  We are most concerned for the youngest members of the FS in Cairo. This must be extremely unsettling, even traumatic for children.  We hope somebody at State has thought about moving additional mental health professionals into the safe haven areas to anticipate potential emotional fallout. We think there is one assigned in Cairo but we don’t know how that works and where he/she goes in an evacuation.  

* * *

Meanwhile, the US Embassy has released a new Warden Message (#6) addressing Frequently Asked Questions on the evacuation of private American citizens.  Due to the internet blackout in Egypt, we are republishing it here. Feel free to pass it on. We understand that dial-up modems, ham radios and fax machines are currently used as modes of communications in and out of Egypt.

The U.S. Embassy in Cairo informs U.S. citizens in Egypt who wish to depart that the Department of State is making arrangements to provide transportation to safehaven locations in Europe.  This assistance will be provided on a reimbursable basis, as required by U.S. law.  U.S. citizens who travel on US government – arranged transport will be expected to make their own onward travel plans from the safehaven location.  Flights to evacuation points will begin departing Egypt on Monday, January 31.  There will be a limited number of seats available on evacuation flights on January 31.  Priority will be given to persons with medical emergencies or severe medical conditions.  Persons interested in departing Egypt via USG-chartered transportation should contact the US Department of State and Embassy Cairo by sending an email to EgyptEmergencyUSC@state.gov or by calling 1-202-501-4444.  Please provide the following information:

Name, age, place of birth, U.S. passport number and any special medical needs.

Immediate family members (spouses and children) who are not U.S. citizens must be documented for entry into the safehaven country and/or U.S., if that is your final destination. 

Frequently Asked Questions:

I’m ready to go.  What do I do?
Documented U.S. citizens may proceed to the HAJ Terminal 4 of the airport as of Monday, January 31, 11:00 am. 

My child is a U.S. citizen. Can my whole family be evacuated? 

A U.S. citizen child may be escorted by one adult, preferably a parent, who has appropriate travel documents.  If a family has more than one U.S. citizen child, the one-adult rule still applies.

Do I need a U.S. passport?

All U.S. citizen travelers and their spouses and children, are required to have valid travel documents.  The U.S. Embassy in Cairo will assist U.S. citizens with travel documents.  U.S. citizens who do not hold a valid U.S. passport or visa and are interested in departing Egypt via USG-chartered transportation should contact the US Department of State and Embassy Cairo by sending an email to EgyptEmergencyUSC@state.gov or by calling 1-202-501-4444.


What do I do if my child is a U.S. citizen, but hasn’t yet been documented?

Contact the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.  U.S. citizens who do not hold a valid U.S. passport or visa interested in departing Egypt via USG-chartered transportation should contact the U.S. Department of State and Embassy Cairo by sending an email to EgyptEmergencyUSC@state.gov or by calling 1-202-501-4444.

My family members aren’t U.S. citizens.  Can they travel with me?

The scheduled evacuation flights will transport U.S. citizens and their immediate family members.  Immediate family members – defined as spouses and children – who are not U.S. citizens will be required to have travel documentation that will permit their entry into the safe haven destinations.  At this time, flights are expected to travel to Istanbul, Turkey, Athens, Greece, and Nicosia, Cyprus.  Safe haven destinations may change.  U.S. citizens requesting evacuation will not be able to select their safe haven destinations.

Will you fly me to the United States? 
Our goal is to get people to a safe place, where they can make their own onward travel arrangements.  Travelers will be responsible for their own onward travel arrangements and accommodations in the safe haven city.  Consular officers will provide travelers with information on airlines and hotels.

What should I bring?

Travelers should bring valid travel documents and any necessary medications.Each traveler may bring one suitcase and a small personal carry-on item.U.S. citizens seeking evacuation should be prepared for a substantial wait at the airport.  Travelers are advised to bring food, water, diapers and other necessary toiletries with them to the airport.


What about my pets?
Evacuation flights will not be able to accommodate pets. 

Do I have to pay for the flight?
U.S. citizens requesting evacuation will be asked to sign paperwork promising to reimburse the U.S. Government for flight costs at a later date.  Exact flight costs are not yet available, but should be comparable to a one-way commercial flight from Egypt to the safe haven location.

How do I get to the airport?
At this time, public transport to include taxis is still operating in Egypt.

The original warden message is here.


US Ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman Jr. to end assignment on April 30

Official photo of United States Ambassador to ...Image via WikipediaVia NYT:

The United States ambassador to China, Jon M. Huntsman Jr., delivered a letter of resignation on Monday to President Obama and intends to leave his position on April 30, a White House official said, clearing the way for him to explore a potential 2012 Republican presidential bid.

Mr. Huntsman, a former Republican governor of Utah, was nominated nearly two years ago by President Obama to serve as the top American envoy to China. He has not decided whether to move forward with a candidacy, associates said, but he has had several conversations with a circle of political advisers who are waiting in the wings if he decides to run.

While Mr. Huntsman has declined to discuss his political ambitions, particularly those that could include challenging the president for whom he has served, a trail of evidence has been building that signals his interest in a White House bid. He has also been spending less time in Beijing and more time in Washington, where he bought a $3.6 million home last summer.


Continue reading: Huntsman Clears Way for a 2010 Bid


US Embassy Egypt: Evacuation Updates and Contact Info

Janice L. JacobsImage via WikipediaThe publicly available report we’ve seen put the private American citizen population in Egypt at approximately 35,000. But news outlets are floating numbers as high as 50,000 – 80,000.

Since not all Americans register at the embassy, and there are presumably American tourists in the usual destinations around the country, the potential number of evacuees is quite impossible to pin down. But we suspect that the Egypt evacuation may potentially dwarf the 15,000 American citizens from Lebanon in 2006, one of the largest overseas evacuations of American citizens in recent history. An evacuation normally starts in accordance with the embassy’s emergency action plan (EAP), using scheduled airlines, chartered flights, or surface transportation. The Lebanon evacuation of course, was a “noncombatant evacuation operation” (NEOs) conducted with the US military whereas, this one in Egypt right now, is a civilian evacuation. 

Janice L. Jacobs, the Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs did an on-the-record briefing on the evacuation of US citizens in Egypt.  Important points below:

  • Department of State has authorized the voluntary departure from Egypt of dependents and non-emergency employees.
  • On private Amcits – there are thousands of potential evacuees out of Egypt, but no real numbers.
  • Lack of internet access makes embassy job more difficult; radio announcements will be used to reach Americans.
  • Flights to evacuation points will begin departing Egypt today, Monday, January 31st
  • Three places in Europe being looked at as safe havens are Istanbul (TURKEY), Nicosia (CYPRUS), and Athens (GREECE).
  • Anticipate that the State Dept will probably […] run several of these evacuation flights over a number of days.
  • State Dept is sending additional staff into Egypt and will also locate additional officers at the safe haven points (we are guessing that the additional staff would be consular officers or officers with prior crisis experience).
  • State Dept has a 24/7 task force going. Call centers are taking down inquiries as they come in.
  • Within the US or Canada — call 1-888-407-4747.
  • Calling from outside the US — call 1-202-501-4444.
  • Embassy Contact email: EgyptEmergencyUSC@state.gov
  • Evacuees to sign promissory notes per regulations; evacuees are expected to pay for their trips.
  • The charter flights are not intended to supplant Americans’ existing commercial travel plans. Citizens with ticketed flights should contact their airlines.
  • Number of Embassy personnel and dependents to be evacuated  – “probably around a thousand people, but I’m – really, I’m just guessing and I would much prefer to get back to you with a number.


U.S. citizens in Egypt who require assistance, or those who are concerned that their U.S. citizen loved one in Egypt may require assistance, should contact the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Embassy at the following email address: EgyptEmergencyUSC@state.gov or by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the United States and Canada, or outside the United States and Canada on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444.

Also this one from State: We are aware that not all U.S. citizens have internet or cell phone service in Egypt. We do know that many Americans are in contact with friends and family outside of Egypt. Because of communications interruptions, we ask that family and friends in the United States assist us by relaying information to their loved ones in Egypt directly. The most up-to-date information – including evacuation instructions – can be found on our website at travel.state.gov.

Read the entire briefing here.

Related items:
01/30/2011 – On-the-Record Briefing On Steps the U.S State Department is Taking to Assist U.S. Citizens in Egypt

GAO-07-893R State Department: The July 2006 Evacuation of American Citizens from Lebanon


Ambassadors’ Renominations Submitted to the Senate: Bryza, Eisen, Ford, Ricciardone, Krol

Nominations for ASEAN and USTR also resubmitted

On January 26, President Obama resubmitted to the Senate the following nominations from last year:

Matthew J. Bryza, of Illinois, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Azerbaijan, to which position he was appointed during the recess of the Senate from December 22, 2010, to January 5, 2011. (Originally nominated on 5/26/10)

Norman L. Eisen, of the District of Columbia, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Czech Republic, to which position he was appointed during the recess of the Senate from December 22, 2010, to January 5, 2011. (Originally nominated on 6/29/10)

Robert Stephen Ford, of Vermont, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Syrian Arab Republic, to which position he was appointed during the recess of the Senate from December 22, 2010, to January 5, 2011. (Originally nominated on 2/22/10)

Francis Joseph Ricciardone, Jr., of Massachusetts, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Career Minister, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Turkey, to which position he was appointed during the recess of the Senate from December 22, 2010, to January 5, 2011. (Originally nominated on 7/12/10)

George Albert Krol, of New Jersey, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Uzbekistan. (Originally nominated on 9/16/10)

David Lee Carden, of New York, to be Representative of the United States of America to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, with the rank of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary. (Originally nominated on 11/15/10)

Michael W. Punke,
of Montana, to be a Deputy United States Trade Representative, with the rank of Ambassador, vice Peter F. Allgeier, resigned. (Originally nominated on 9/14/09)

Related item:
Presidential Nominations Sent to the Senate | January 26, 2011


US Embassy Cairo Issues Warden Message for Voluntary Departure of US Citizens

The US Embassy in Cairo has issued Warden Message #5 dated January 20, 2011 informing American citizens in Egypt that the US Government is making preparations for their voluntary evacuation to unnamed locations in Europe: 

The U.S. Embassy in Cairo informs U.S. citizens in Egypt who wish to depart that the Department of State is making arrangements to provide transportation to safehaven locations in Europe.  This assistance will be provided on a reimbursable basis, as required by U.S. law.  U.S. citizens who travel on US government –arranged transport will be expected to make their own onward travel plans from the safehaven location.  Flights to evacuation points will begin departing Egypt on Monday, January 31.  

Persons interested in departing Egypt via USG-chartered transportation should contact the US Department of State and Embassy Cairo by sending an email to EgyptEmergencyUSC@state.gov or by calling 1-202-501-4444
 
Please provide the following information:
 
Name, age, place of birth and U.S. passport number
Any special medical needs or circumstances
 
Immediate family members (spouses and children) who are not U.S. citizens must be documented for entry into the safehaven country and/or U.S., if that is your final destination. 
 

Travelers are permitted only one piece of luggage per person.  Pets cannot be evacuated.

We are not sure exactly when is the tourist season over there.  But Egypt is a key international tourist destination, with over 300,000 American visitors annually.  A publicly available report from 2009 indicates that the resident American citizen population in the country is approximately 35,000.


The American Citizen Services unit there faces a growing caseload of parental child abductions; destitute and abandoned American citizen mothers with minor children; Internet marriages and associated claims of domestic violence; mentally ill American citizens; property disputes and others.  Evacuations are always challenging but in Egypt, it may be challenging and also complicated with family-related issues.

Read our post on the US Embassy Tunis evacuation of private American citizens to Morocco here with links to the official regulations.


Related item:
7 FAM 1800 APPENDIX D CRISIS EVACUATION LOANS AND EVACUATION DOCUMENTATION – Download PDF








US Embassy Cairo to Evacuate Non-Essential Personnel and Dependents

On January 30, the Department of State authorized the voluntary departure of dependents and non-emergency employees from the US Embassy in Egypt.


The announcement also calls on U.S. citizens currently in Egypt to “consider leaving as soon as they can safely do so.  Cairo airport is open and operating, but flights may be disrupted and transport to the airport may be disrupted due to the protests.” Also:

In the event of demonstrations, U.S. citizens in Egypt should remain in their residences or hotels until the situation stabilizes.  Security forces may block off the area around the U.S. Embassy during demonstrations, and U.S. citizens should not attempt to come to the U.S. Embassy or the Tahrir Square area at such times. The U. S. Embassy is open for emergency services for U.S. citizens only until further notice.  As always, any change to Embassy hours will be posted on the Embassy website.  U.S. citizens in Egypt who require assistance, or those who are concerned that their U.S. citizen loved one in Egypt may require assistance, should contact the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Embassy in Cairo at EgyptEmergencyUSC@state.gov, or at 1-202-501-4444.



Read the new travel warning here.

We don’t know the exact numbers of dependents and employees considered non-emergency/non-essential personnel at the embassy.  But APP Alexandria has one officer and 49 local staff.  Embassy Cairo has approximately  476 direct hire staff, and 1,349 locally employed staff. Add to that the private amcits and the logistics are quite daunting. 

In related news —

The ground floor of the New Zealand embassy building was reportedly damaged by demonstrators in Cairo but will open on Monday.

An Azerbaijani embassy worker was also shot dead in Egypt yesterday. Nijat Gojayev, the embassy accountant, was fatally wounded when he was returning home from work in Cairo, ministry spokesman Elkhan Polukhov said in an interview with Bloomberg.

Related item:
Post Evacuation Links for Employees and Family Members


 

 


No Evacuation Yet for US Embassy Egypt … Um, Why Not?

Yesterday, AFP reported the return of American dependents to US Embassy Tunis:

The US State Department announced Friday it is allowing US government dependents to return to Tunisia as a wave of anti-government protests there eased.

“The unrest that had spread to Tunis and all major cities has diminished and public order has returned; however, spontaneous and unpredictable events continue to occur,” the State Department said in an updated travel alert.

“The Department of State has lifted authorized departure status and allowed US government dependents to return to Tunisia,” it said.

The embassy announced the evacuation on January 16 with a chartered aircraft transporting departing personnel to Rabat, Morocco the morning of January 18, 2011.

FS blogger, Four Globetrotters who was evacuated from Tunis with her kids writes

Tuesday the kids and I drove ourselves to the Embassy by way of six military checkpoints, one particularly eager young soldier decided I was a threat and pointed his rifle at my head as I stopped the car, and the kids and I got on the plane with a few other families for our flight to the safehaven.

Meanwhile over at the current center of the storm in Egypt, we have yet to hear any news of US Embassy evacuation. 

Forbes.com reported on January 29 that several Arab countries including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon and Jordan have organized flights to take their nationals and families of diplomats out of Egypt because of the violence and unrest roiling the country.

The Israel Foreign Ministry today evacuated the family members of diplomatic personnel serving in the embassy in Cairo, but stopped well short of pulling out all diplomatic personnel.  Reuters reported that the  foreign ministry said there were no plans to remove diplomats stationed in Egypt. Previous reports that the embassy had been shut down were denied, with a spokesman saying the offices were closed for the weekend.

On Friday, Fox News blog reported about the if of the evac:

Pentagon officials are right now watching very carefully the developments on the streets of Cairo. I am told from a senior defense official that if the U.S. Embassy needed to be evacuated, the Egyptian military would be involved and there are contingency plans for such that have been dusted off.

However, the reports from the Embassy in Cairo suggest that no call has yet been made to evacuate the embassy and that the guidance as of 9:30 am EST is that such a move is unnecessary at this time. The State Department has not called for the dependents of those serving in the U.S. Embassy to be evacuated.

A follow up report today also in Fox New, citing a senior US defense official says that the Egyptian military is protecting the U.S. Embassy as protesters continue to take to the streets in opposition of President Hosni Mubarak:

The official said the U.S. Embassy so far has not made a request for an evacuation, though the United States has evacuations plans at the ready for its embassies around the world.
[…]
A full evacuation would be a daunting task in the middle of such turmoil. There are 50,000 Americans estimated to be in Egypt, but the official said a full evacuation could cover as many as 85,000 people, some of whom are third-party nationals which the United States is “responsible for.”

The USS Kearsarge is the closest Navy vessel in the area, but it has not been ordered to move into help provide support for the evolving situation in Egypt.

Time.com mentions the USS Ponce in addition to the Kearsarge:

The U.S. Marines have a pair of warships — the USS Kearsarge and the USS Ponce — just hanging around the southern end of the Red Sea waiting to see if they’re needed to rescue U.S. diplomats and citizens from Cairo. They’re half of the Marines’ 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, a mini-armada that recently dispatched 1,400 of its 2,000 Marines into Afghanistan. But they’ve got a “fair number” of helicopters, and Marines, still aboard. “They’re not in the on-deck circle yet,” a military official says. “They’re kind of getting ready to come out of the dugout.” Meetings in Washington through Friday night and into the weekend will determine if they’re ordered to carry out a NEO — a non-combat (but potentially dicey) evacuation operation.

More on the Egyptian forces guarding the foreign mission from Ynet News:

Egyptian security forces are guarding the US and British embassies for fear that incidents such as those which occurred in Iran in 1979 would recur in Cairo.


In Tunisia, five people were killed and 800 wounded when demonstrators clashed with police earlier this month.

The State Department evacuated US Embassy Tunis four days after Ben Ali departed the country.

Egypt, of course is not Tunisia. With a population at about 82 million, is covers a third of the Arab world. The estimated death toll from the protest is 91 with about 1,000 injured. We suspect that we may not know the real numbers for quite a while.

So, we’re curious — this is now Day 6 of the Egyptian protests —  how much more violence on the streets of Egypt should we see before the evac of non-essential personnel and dependents happen? 


Photos from Egypt’s Day of Rage #Jan25

Muhammad Ghafari a freelance journalist from Giza, Egypt has 118 photos of the Jan25 Day of Rage in Egypt. It looks like all the photos were taken on January 25, 2011 using a RIM BlackBerry 9300. Photos are used under Creative Commons | Attribution 2.0 Generic  (CC BY 2.0) http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en

His Flickr page is here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/70225554@N00/


US ConGen Lahore: Man in jail and protecting our so called "strategic partnership"?

The original title of this blog post which you might see in your RSS feed has been changed to reflect a less freaked out brain with obviously, more oxygen.

The Daily Times reported that a judicial magistrate on Friday handed over US national, Raymond David, involved in the killing of two alleged robbers in the street of Lahore, to police on six-day physical remand.

The accused, who was presented before the court amid strict security in an armoured personnel carrier, told the court that he killed both persons in self-defence.

Meanwhile, the United States said on Thursday that it would try hard to ensure there was no anti-American backlash from a shooting incident in which a US Consulate worker was charged with the murder of two Pakistani men.

“We want to make sure that a tragedy like this does not affect the strategic partnership that we’re building with Pakistan,” State Department spokesman Philip Crowley told reporters.

“We produced the American in the court of magistrate Zafar Iqbal, who remanded him into police custody for six days,” senior police official, Zulfiqar Hameed, told AFP, adding that David would appear in court again on Thursday.

Read more here.

State Department officials are still mum on the identity of the employee involved. The Skeptical Bureaucrat who has covered this unfolding event from the start has an anonymous/unconfirmed  tip on how this went down.  He also writes that the consulate employee has now been identified as Steve David. A person who was obviously trying to blend in, he even wears his blue badge?

It sounds like the American employee is in local police custody for a least six days (correct us if we’re reading this wrong). The report also does not indicate whether the accused was in court with a local lawyer to represent him.  Another employee will reportedly be handed over to the local authorities. Good luck hiring drivers afterwards!   

There are, of course, many things we don’t know about this case, including the diplomatic status of this employee.  He is, according to the official statement from the State Department spokesman, is a civilian employee of the US Government. We don’t know if he has diplomatic immunity or not, if that has been waived or not.  But this we know on the premise that he is a government employee — he is in Lahore, Pakistan on official orders of the United States Government.

But wait – what’s this?

ABC News is reporting that the employee in the shooting incident is private security officer Raymond Davis.  The report made note that the U.S. State Department and Pakistani officials are still at odds over the identity of the employee but identifies Davis as the person who runs Hyperion Protective Consultants, LLC, a company that provides “loss and risk management professionals.”  ABC News also points out since it is not known in what capacity Davis was working for the government, it is not clear whether he is entitled to diplomatic immunity.

Well, there you go — the next time you get PJ Crowley on the podium, would you please ask him what he means exactly by “employee.”

It is no secret that America’s overall image remains negative in Pakistan.  Last year’s Pew Research Survey indicates that only 17% of Pakistanis have a favorable view of the United States. Roughly six-in-ten (59%) Pakistanis also describe the U.S. as an enemy, while just 11% say it is a partner.

Shortly after this incident occurred, Lahore police chief Aslam Tareen said the man was being questioned by the police and may be charged with both murder and illegally carrying a weapon: a Beretta pistol. The American shot both men after they pointed guns at him at an intersection, Tareen said.  “Diplomatic staff usually enjoy a certain type of immunity, but I am not sure about murder,” he said. “We will consult the Foreign Office and legal advisers in this regard.”

No pause about completing an investigation first. No question or doubt whether this was self defense as the accused claimed.  No matter what circumstances surrounds this case, it looks like most people have already prejudge this as murder. Make that double murder with a strong dash of prejudice.

The Punjab law minister, Rana Sana Ullah told the media: “We fear that the U.S. national was on some secret mission in that area that is why he was so over active and frightened.”

So first a double murderer, and now also a spy. If he is found carrying multiple foreign passports, he would be Jason Bourne in person.  

Did not help that a retired Diplomatic Security counterterrorism specialist speculates “that the American involved in a fatal shootout in Lahore, Pakistan, was the victim of a spy meeting gone awry, not the target of a robbery or car-jacking attempt.”

The father of one of the deceased victims was now quoted as saying: “We want justice. We will not allow government to sell the blood of our son. The killer should be hanged.”

Would this American “employee” now accused of a double murder even get a fair trial in that kind of environment?  That he was transported in an armoured personnel carrier should give us pause. Who is representing the American employee’s interest in court? Is somebody from the consulate doing jail visits the next six days? We don’t want him meeting an accident while in custody.   

If you work for US Mission Pakistan and your work requires that you make trips around the city or the country, make sure you request a helicopter for your next transport. The last we heard air traffic is not as bad.  Otherwise, it’s probably best to stay put right now. 

Because we got this question in our my mailbox:

“If my my spouse and/or I get into a car accident and someone gets hurt, will the State Department just abandon us over to the local authorities?”  

An excellent, excellent question.

The federal government apparently can choose whether or not to defend you.  Of course, we doubt if anyone would answer any hypotheticals, much less put that in writing. But FS personnel assigned to U.S. embassies and consulates should still consult with appropriate officials of the mothership regarding authoritative information on diplomatic and consular immunities.

That said, US Diplomacy has a cautionary tale on diplomatic immunity and accidents overseas:

While the duties of a Foreign Service Officer (FSO) may be clearly defined by the State Department, his or her immunities and privileges should not be taken for granted.  Even when the Foreign Ministry of a country may be fully aware of this dimension of diplomatic practice, successfully claiming such immunities in the case of an accident or other emergency situation may well depend on the willingness of local officials to honor them. 

Moreover, depending on whether official duties or functions are involved, the Department of State may or may not come to the defense of U.S. Government employees faced with lawsuits. For example, Douglas Kent, U.S. consul general in Vladivostok, was involved in a car accident in October 1998 while driving home from his office.  After Kent left the post on reassignment, a Russian citizen injured in the accident sued Kent in his individual capacity in a district court in California.  According to an August 31, 2006, “AFSANET” message from the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA), “The Department of Justice with State Department concurrence refused to certify that Kent was acting within the scope of his employment when the accident occurred,” thus undermining his claim of immunity.  Ultimately, with AFSA supporting FSO Kent’s legal defense, the case went to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, which ruled in his favor by determining that he was acting within the scope of his employment when the accident took place. 

The Kent case clearly demonstrates that while Foreign Service personnel, especially those in senior positions, may consider themselves on duty 24 hours a day while stationed overseas and thus fully protected, particular circumstances may put those immunities at risk.  The case also points to the necessity for all employees who drive overseas to have fully adequate personal/automobile liability insurance coverage (which Mr. Kent did not have).

See AFSA’s report on this case in 2006 here: The CG Is on Duty 24/7: Court Agrees.

This one should be essential reading in A-100 except it might demoralized the new employees: KASHIN v. KENT | US Court of Appeals, 9th Circuit | 2006

While you’re thinking about this, best check all your insurance coverage, including your professional liability insurance.