Category Archives: featured

Spain: Cupid fraud for migrants

On 10 December 2019, the Spanish National Police (Policía Nacional), supported by Europol, dismantled an organised crime group involved in the facilitation of illegal immigration by arranging sham unmarried partnerships in Spain. The partnerships of convenience were set up to ensure legal permanent permits of residence for irregular migrants.

The operation led to 11 searches of properties and companies, 30 arrests and the seizures of a luxury car, over €10 000 in cash and a high number of documents. Solid evidence of facilitation of illegal immigration and document fraud was found during the searches.

The organised crime group recruited Spanish women willing to be part of unmarried partnerships. Non-EU migrants, wanting to migrate or formalise their stay in Europe, acquired similar rights of EU citizens through the fraudulent partnerships with the Spanish women. Each migrant had to pay between €8 000 and €12 000 for this service. The woman in these pretend partnerships were paid €3 000 for their “I do” as a pretend partner.

The members of this highly complex organised crime group owned several shell companies and were Moroccan and Spanish nationals. The women, also members of the crime group, were registered as employees in these companies. Their employment contracts allowed them to justify their revenues and gave the companies a legitimate legal appearance. A money laundering component was also detected during the investigation.

Europol provided coordination and analytical support and facilitated the information exchange. On the action day, Europol also deployed experts on-the-spot to cross-check operational information in real time against Europol’s databases and to provide technical expertise.

EU renews terrorist list

The Council today renewed the so-called EU terrorist list, which sets out persons, groups and entities subject to restrictive measures with a view to combating terrorism. Persons, groups and entities on the list are subject to the freezing of their funds and other financial assets in the EU. It is also prohibited for EU operators to make funds and economic resources available to them.

The Council is empowered to establish a EU list and impose related restrictive measures under Council Common Position 2001/931/CFSP, and Council Regulation (EC) No 2580/2001.

The Council first set up the list as implementation of UNSC Resolution 1373/2001 that followed the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001. It reviews the list at regular intervals, and at least every six months, on the basis of a regular exchange of information between member states on any new facts and developments relating to the listings.

This sanctions regime is separate from the EU regime implementing UN Security Council resolutions 1267 (2011), 1989 (2011) and 2253 (2015 and targeting Al-Qaida and ISIL/Da’esh. The EU also has its own sanction regime which allows the EU to apply sanctions autonomously to ISIL/Da’esh and Al-Qaida and persons and entities associated or supporting them.

Venice suffers acqua alta

The gust of wind with  bad weather that has hit much of Italy saw acqua alta reach 1.27 metres in Venice on November 12, with much of the city swamped and the narthex of St Mark’s Basilica flooded.

Levels of 100-120 cm above sea level are fairly common in the lagoon city and Venice is well-equipped to cope with its rafts of pontoon walkways, ANSA writes.
But anything much above 120 cm risks swamping much of the city. In southern Italy, meanwhile, schools were closed in Matera and the nearby town of Metaponto was hit by a tornado.
Gale-force winds and torrential rain is also a big problem in Calabria, where the gusts reached 113 kmph and Puglia.

Macron diagnoses NATO clinically dead

French Emmanuel Macron’s pessimistic diagnosis of NATO “brain dead” has caused the shock waves among Europeans, but apparently that’s a risk the French president is prepared to take, launching alam over non-compliance of some of the Alliance members with democratic standards, namely Turkey belligerent actions. (Image: archive).

https://twitter.com/afp/status/1192431507068964868?s=21

In an interview with The Economist magazine, Macron also warned Europeans could no longer rely on the United States to defend its allies and they needed to take security into their own hands. 

Although French President has long urged Europe to think of itself as an autonomous “sovereign power”, his verdict on the archaic 70-year old Alliance, conceived father the WWII in a totally different political context, Germany’s Angela Merkel assessed as too “drastic”. 

Emmanuel Macron is convinced that the assessment is needed to wake up Europeans to engage in polemics ahead of NATO’s December 4 summit in London. 

The franc criticism of NATO came shortly after the grand national funeral to Jaque Chirac who stood against NATO invasion of Iraq. The admiration of French nation to late Chirac for his independent foreign policy, distancing V Republic from American military adventures, known as “wars for oil’ has certainly inspired President Macron to undertake Gaullist stance against the U.S. military might.

https://twitter.com/rt_com/status/1193055619344982017?s=21

The Kremlin was among the enthusiastic observer’s of Macron’s assessment of NATO state of affairs. Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova described Macron’s verdict as “golden (precious) words” constituting the “precise definition of the current state of NATO.”

Borrell’s undiplomatic offensive

European Commission has been confronted with questions of journalists over a Twitter micro blog embarrassing message, mounting up to “malfeasance in office” by its next EU top diplomat and incumbent Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell, who posted a sensitive document from UK authorities on his feed.

The document, not meant for public release, related to a Spanish request for the arrest and extradition from Britain of a Catalan politician, Clara Ponsati, who is engaged as an academic at a Scottish university.

It contained a British query, made through an EU police cooperation database for the Schengen free movement area called SIRENE, asking for more information to support the Spanish warrant and revealed some of Ponsati’s personal data.

Borrell posted it to his Twitter account on Wednesday and later deleted it — but not before its was screengrabbed and triggered a complaint from a Catalan MEP, Diana Riber, who demanded Borrell be barred from taking up his job as the next EU High Representative for foreign affairs.

A spokeswoman for the European Commission told reporters Friday that “there are very clear rules in place regarding access to and use of the Schengen Information System… and we would expect that everyone shall respect the letter and spirit of these rules, notably any confidentiality requirements.”

The spokeswoman, Mina Andreeva, said it was a Spanish matter and should not affect Borrell’s future post in the Commission.

“This tweet was posted by Mr Borrell in his capacity as acting foreign minister. It is now for the national competent authorities to look into this matter,” she said, passing the buck to Madrid.

Claiming to be Catalan, Borrell, 72, is endorsed to become the EU’s top foreign policy official in the Ursula von der Leyen Commission.

That new team was scheduled to start working this month but has been delayed by at least a month because some of nominated commissioners failed to receive their consent. 

Spain’s European arrest warrant against Ponsati is part of Madrid’s crackdown on Catalan independence movement.

Open Arms refuses to navigate to Spain

The Mediterranean Open Arms migrant rescue vessel has firmly rejected an offer of a safe port in Spain, explaining that the six day journey to Algeciras would be too risky for the passengers, whose moods have been already critical.

Open Arms map

Today, ignoring the maritime border,  some of 107 migrants have been jumping off the vessel and attempting to swim towards Lampedusa in refusal to respect the concept of border as such, demonstrating their determination to enter Italy. The NGO Open Arms has been flexing mussels, signaling to Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, that his orders don’t mean anything to them, while international players, supporting illegal migration are more powerful than a sovereign state.

In his turn Salvini has used social media to expose the Spanish offer to point out it was made to cast him as a “racist”. He accused those 27 migrants who were allowed to disembark on humanitarian grounds of lying about their age and their illnesses.

They told me from Lampedusa that out of the 27 immigrants for whom the landing was ordered are minors, 8 have already declared themselves older! We will see others …
After the “imaginary sick”, here are the “imaginary minors”!
While others give in, I don’t change my mind.” Salvini wrote.

We do not accept Spain as a port to go because we are in a state of extreme humanitarian emergency. What they need is to be disembarked now,” Open Arms NGO spokesperson said.

The migrants, most of whom are  from Sub-Saharan Africa, were collected off the coast of Libya by the Open Arms NGO vessel navigating under Spanish flag, , transported upon their own initiative to Italy, and from the moment of arrival to Lampedusa island. they have been waiting for the permission to disembark.

ISIS fighter repatriated to Italy

An Italian foreign fighter was repatriated on after being arrested in Syria, ANSA news agency reports. (Image above: illustration).
Samir Bougana, (25) from Moroccan  origin, allegedly first fought with militias affiliated to Al Qaeda and then with ISIS.

An arrest warrant for Bougana  was issued for the crime of association with terrorism after Brescia prosecutors opened an investigation into his activities in 2015. He is suspected to have reached the war zone in 2013 from Germany. His repatriation was fulfilled in cooperation between the Italian authorities and the FBI, who contacted the Kurdish-Syrian forces that Bougana surrendered to in August 2018.

Bougana was born in Gavardo, near Brescia, and lived in Italy until he was 16 before moving to Germany with his family.

« Older Entries