US Embassy Local Employees in the News #Ukraine #Yemen #Belarus

 

U.S. EMBASSY BELARUS

U.S. EMBASSY UKRAINE

U.S. EMBASSY YEMEN

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USDOJ: Iraqi National Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy to Defraud U.S. Refugee Program

 

Via USDOJ:

WASHINGTON – An Iraqi national, Aws Muwafaq Abduljabbar, pleaded guilty today to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States related to his role in a scheme to defraud U.S. refugee programs.

The announcement was made by U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Inspector General Dr. Joseph V. Cuffari, and U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) Deputy Assistant Secretary and Assistant Director for Domestic Operations Mark A. Sullo.

Abduljabbar, 43, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Judge Rudolph Contreras of the District of Columbia. He remains held without bond pending sentencing on June 24, 2022.

Abduljabbar is one of three defendants charged in an indictment that was unsealed on January 22, 2021. The indictment charges Abduljabbar and two other foreign nationals, Haitham Isa Saado Sad, 43, and Olesya Leonidovna Krasilova, 44, in connection with a scheme to defraud the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) and, in particular, the Iraq P-2 program, which allows certain Iraqis to apply directly for refugee resettlement in the United States. Sad previously pleaded guilty and remains held pending sentencing. Krasilova remains at large.

According to the indictment and statement of facts agreed to by Abduljabbar as part of his guilty plea, from approximately February 2016 until at least April 2019, the three defendants, led by Abduljabbar, conspired to steal U.S. government records related to hundreds of USRAP applications. Sad was employed in Amman, Jordan from 2007 to 2016 by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and Krasilova held a similar position at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, Russia. As part of their duties, both defendants had access to the State Department’s Worldwide Refugee Admissions Processing System (WRAPS), a database containing sensitive, non-public information about refugee applicants and their family members, as well as the results of security checks and internal assessments by U.S. officials regarding applications.

Abduljabbar organized and led the conspiracy, and he relied on and paid Sad and Krasilova to steal WRAPS records and information so that Abduljabbar could assist applicants in gaining admission to the United States through fraudulent means. As outlined in the indictment and statement of facts, the theft of USRAP records creates a number of risks to public safety and national security while imposing significant costs on the U.S. government, its taxpayers, and otherwise legitimate refugee applicants negatively impacted by the scheme.

The charges in an indictment are merely allegations, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. The maximum penalty for conspiracy to defraud the United States is five years. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes. If convicted of any offense, a defendant’s sentence will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

The indictment is available to read here.

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Snapshot: Foreign Service National (FSN) Emergency Relief Fund

 

The Foreign Service National Emergency Relief Fund was created to respond to crises following natural disasters, civil unrest, and targeted attacks or “in the line of duty” incidents affecting locally employed (LE) staff working for the U.S. Government. It is one of almost 90 Gift Fund programs managed by the Office of Emergencies in the Diplomatic and Consular Service (M/EDCS) and is one of the two Gift Fund programs that exist solely to assist employees. Funding for this program is not appropriated and is sustained solely by private contributions. The donations are tax deductible and 100% of all contributions are allocated for disbursement directly to Locally Employed (LE) Staff. Contributions to the Fund can be made by Civil Service, Foreign Service, LE Staff and private sector individuals (via RNET).
Donations can be made via the following:
• Secure on-line electronic donations can be made directly from your bank account or by credit/debit card to http://www.pay.gov.
• Checks may be sent to the Department’s Gift Fund Coordinator’s Office M/EDCS, Rm. 7427-B, 2201 C Street NW, Washington DC 20520. Please make checks payable to the U.S. Department of State, designation for the “FSN Emergency Relief Fund”.
• DOS, LE Staff, and overseas American employees of other federal agencies currently being paid by State can make contributions by payroll deduction. One time or recurring payroll deductions can be made through the Payroll Customer Support Center at PayHelp@state.gov.  LE staff wishing to contribute should contact their management office for currency exchange assistance.  CGFS/EDCS has authorized reverse accommodation exchange for emergency fund contributions.  For additional information, please visit the CGFS/EDCS website.
Read more: 2 FAM 962.14  Gifts to the Foreign Service National Emergency Relief Fund

 

 

Russian Govt to Postpone Prohibition of US Mission Russia’s Employment of Foreign Nationals

13 Going on 14 — GFM: https://gofund.me/32671a27

 

A follow-up to our April 20 post: US Mission Russia: Mass Termination of Local Staff, Severe Reduction in Consular Services Effective May 12.
On May 14, the US Embassy in Moscow announced to US citizens in Russia that the host country has informed the US Mission of its intent to postpone its prohibition of the employment of foreign nationals at US Mission Russia. So for now through July 16, routine U.S. citizen services will temporarily resumed.

Temporary Resumption of Consular Services – The Russian government has informed U.S. Embassy Moscow of its intent to postpone the prohibition of U.S. Mission Russia’s employment of foreign nationals.  Consequently, through July 16, U.S. Embassy Moscow will temporarily resume routine U.S. citizen services, including passport services, Consular Reports of Birth Abroad, and limited notarial services.  Please visit our website for instructions on scheduling an appointment.  We will also provide immigrant visa processing for priority and urgent cases.

Actions To Take:

If you are a U.S. citizen present in Russia and your visa has expired, we strongly urge you to depart Russia before the June 15 deadline set by the Russian government.

If you plan to remain in Russia past this deadline, please visit your local Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) office to start the necessary paperwork as recently suggested by MVD.

Be aware that Embassy Moscow is unable to answer any specific questions about Russian residency or Russian visas, as this process is managed entirely by the Russian government.

In related news, Moscow Times reports that US Embassy Moscow spokesperson Rebecca Ross and nine other American diplomats have until May 21 to leave the country in line with Russia’s retaliation to the expulsion of 10 of its diplomats from the United States.

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FSN Recognition Day: Gratefulness and Celebration, So Now They’ll Finally Get an Ombudsman?

 

US Mission Turkey: @ABDIstanbul Employee Mete Canturk Gets 5-Year Jail Term #WhatAreYouGonnaDo #StateDept

 

Reuters notes that Mete Canturk is the third U.S. consulate worker to be convicted in Turkey. Hamza Ulucay was sentenced to 4-1/2 years in prison on terrorism charges. Metin Topuz, a translator for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration at the consulate in Istanbul, was sentenced in June to nearly nine years in jail for aiding Gulen’s network.
See more here:

Related posts:

 

Dear @StateDept, What Are You Going to Do About Metin Topuz’s Imprisonment Besides Being “Deeply Troubled?”

 

The United States can do a lot more than simply express being “deeply troubled” or its “deep disappointment.” The question is will it do more? How much is it willing to do when it comes to Metin Topuz, a Turkish citizen employee who worked at the U.S. Consulate General in Istanbul prior to his arrest?
The State Department has 50,059 locally employed staff at 275 posts in 195 countries.
In August 2018, the Treasury Department targeted Turkish Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul and Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu with financial sanctions over the country’s refusal to release Andrew Brunson, a Christian pastor who had been imprisoned by the Turkish government on charges of terrorism and espionage. In October 2018, Brunson was convicted, by Turkish authorities, on the charge of aiding terrorism, but was released from Turkish custody and returned to the United States.

 

Related posts:

Snapshot: Historical Numbers of Foreign Service, Civil Service and FSN Employees (2007-2017)

Posted: 2:01 am ET

 

Via state.gov

 

Note: Click on lower right hand arrow on the Cloudup screen to maximize the reading area.

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Burn Bag: Consular Locally Employed Staff on LinkedIn? #VisaTroubles

Via Burn Bag:

“So, the Consular Section’s locally engaged employees are publicly identifying themselves as such on LinkedIn? Not a good idea.”

via imoviequotes.com

via imoviequotes.com

LES – Locally Employed Staff

FSNs – Foreign Service National employees

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Mr. Smith Writes to Washington, Goes to Bat For Local Staff in the Persian Gulf’s Unfair Labor Markets

Posted: 2:43 am ET
Updated: 10:17 am PT
[twitter-follow screen_name=’Diplopun

Via AFSA:

William R. Rivkin Award for Constructive Dissent by a Mid-Career Officer – Jefferson Smith, U.S. Embassy Kuwait

Jefferson Smith receives this year’s William R. Rivkin Award for Constructive Dissent by a Mid-Career Officer for his commitment to combatting unfair labor practices and his push for compensation reform for locally employed (LE) staff at posts in the Persian Gulf.

While posted to Kuwait, Management Counselor Smith observed that the nine embassies and consulates in the Persian Gulf region are staffed almost exclusively by third-country nationals (TCNs) who did not enjoy the rights of citizens and earned wages and benefits so low that they could not support their families. U.S. Embassy Kuwait employs more than 200 TCN men and women from 27 different nationalities—and employs no Kuwaitis because the U.S. government does not pay enough to attract them.

Mr. Smith gathered data, framed his arguments and then brought his views to a regional management officers’ conference, where he found allies and organized a regionwide approach. He then wrote a detailed, thoughtful cable to Washington, signed by the six regional ambassadors, proposing that the department should define a new standard for compensating its LE staff at posts employing a majority of TCNs in unfair labor markets.

In short, Mr. Smith challenged the department to lead—not just follow—local practice in these markets. All of his preparation and action had an effect: The under secretary for management approved a Public Interest Determination (a policy exception) to create housing and education allowances for LE staff, and moved U.S. Embassy Kuwait to the top of the list for the next tranche of wage increases. The result was an average 22-percent salary increase in addition to the new allowances.

Mr. Smith’s success in winning a more just compensation package for the LE staff of U.S. Embassy Kuwait was an important milestone that will serve as a model as he and others continue to fight for a more equitable way to compensate employees under these conditions.

Mr. Smith has served in Kuwait since 2014. As a management-coned Foreign Service officer, Mr. Smith has had opportunities to serve in consular, economic, political and management functions in four regional bureaus and six overseas assignments, including Kingston, Dar es Salaam (twice), Yaoundé, Dublin and Kuwait.

The annual award is named after Ambassador William R. Rivkin (1919–1967) who served as ambassador to Luxembourg, Senegal, and Gambia in the 1960s.  He is the father of Charles Rivkin, the current U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs, and the former U.S. Ambassador to France (2009-2013). Read A/S Rivkin’s Honoring Constructive Dissent: The William R. Rivkin Award on DipNote.

We should note that this is one of AFSA’s three dissent awards and is separate from the State Department “Dissent Channel.” The FAM precludes the use of the official Channel to address “non-policy issues (e.g., management or personnel issues that are not significantly related to substantive matters of policy).”

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