Entries in Defector (9)


Daughter of Cuban Vice President Defects to US

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The adult child of a top Cuban official has found a new home in the U.S.

Glenda Murillo Diaz, 24, made the decision to defect two weeks ago by entering Laredo, Texas from Mexico.  She now lives in Tampa, Fla., where the Republicans are holding their national convention to nominate Mitt Romney for president.

Diaz is the daughter of Cuban Vice President Marino Murillo Jorge.  While he is one of the country's seven vice presidents, Murillo Jorge also belongs to the political bureau of the Cuban Communist Party.

Put in charge of enacting economic reforms in Cuba, that have been slow in coming, it's believed that Murillo Jorge might also have a shot at becoming the president once Raul Castro decides to step down from power.

His daughter's defection might change all that, however.

Many Cubans who've decided to leave their homeland take advantage of a law that allows them to remain on U.S. soil.  It appears Murillo Diaz has done the same.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Former Syrian PM Makes First Public Comments Since Defection

LOUAI BESHARA/AFP/Getty Images(AMMAN, Jordan) -- Speaking for the first time since he defected to Jordan last week, Syria's former prime minister announced on Tuesday he's joined the rebels in their 17-month quest to out President Bashar al-Assad.

"We will do everything we can to liberate these people and to, for the return of the displaced to their homes -- dignified, victorious on the land of Syria.  Long live Syria," Riad Hijab said through a translator.

Since the conflict between government and rebel forces began in March 2011, an estimated 20,000 people have died in Syria.

Hijab urged other top officials to join the rebel cause and said Assad's days are numbered.

"The regime is collapsing -- morally, financially, economically and military broken," he said.

He also thanked Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey -- supporters of the country's Sunni insurgency -- for helping the rebels take on the regime.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Syrian Prime Minister Took Longer to Defect than First Reported

LOUAI BESHARA/AFP/GettyImages(DAMASCUS, Syria) -- The high-profile defection of former Syrian Prime Minister Riyad al-Hijab didn't happen when everyone was told about it.

Al Jazeera reported last Monday that al-Hijab, along with other ministers, military officials and their families, fled to Jordan, as the ex-prime minister said that he was through supporting the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in its attempt to crush an 18-month-long rebellion.

The information came from the main rebel group, the Free Syrian Army, but as it turned out, the news was intended as a smoke screen because transporting al-Hijab and his entourage was more involved and dangerous than first believed.

To help facilitate the escape, the Free Syrian Army assisted the renegade Syrian official by using decoy cars and convoys to confuse the Syrian military who were thought to be looking for al-Hijab.

By Wednesday morning, the mission appeared accomplished as the minister for Jordan's media affairs declared that the former prime minister and the others had safely crossed the border into their country.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Syrian Ambassador to Iraq Defects

Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images(BAGHDAD) -- Numerous members of the Syrian military, including several top generals, have defected in the wake of their country’s 16-month violent anti-government uprising, but President Bashar al-Assad suffered a diplomatic loss on Wednesday when his ambassador to Iraq announced his defection in Baghdad.

Ambassador Nawaf al-Fares is the first senior diplomat to leave Assad’s embattled government.  

In a statement released to Al Jazeera, al-Fares said, “I announced my resignation as Syrian ambassador to Iraq as I also declare my defection from the Syrian Baath party.  I urge all honest members of this party to follow my path because the regime has turned it to an instrument to kill people and their aspiration to freedom.”

“I also declare from this moment that I have joined the ranks of the revolution, a place where I should be at this critical time which Syria is going through,” al-Fares concluded.

Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, says the United States is joining several European nations in calling for Assad to comply with U.N. Special Envoy Kofi Annan’s six-point peace proposal and implement an immediate ceasefire or face the consequences.  Those consequences include U.N.-authorized sanctions.  

Key Syrian allies, Russia and China, have not yet given their support for a U.N. resolution for sanctions.

Ambassador Rice says Iran is also complicating matters because it continues to support and aid the Assad government.

Syrian opposition forces say more than 17,000 people have been killed in the uprising against the Assad government.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Top Syrian General Defects; Turkey Recovers Pilots Downed by Syria

Alessio Romenzi/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) -- There have been numerous defections by members of the Syrian military during the country’s 16-month-long uprising, but President Bashar al-Assad suffered a personal embarrassment on Thursday when a general who was once a close adviser reportedly defected.

The Telegraph reports Brigadier Gen. Manaf Tlas, the top commander of Syria’s elite Republican Guard who also served as a member of Assad’s inner circle, has fled to Turkey.

The newspaper says a pro-Syrian government website confirmed Tlas had fled to Turkey, but downplayed the significance of his defection.  A security official was quoted as saying, “His escape does not mean anything.”

The report says Gen. Tlas comes from one of the most famous families in Syria.  

Opposition forces claim 15 generals have defected and joined the rebels in recent months.

Meanwhile, Turkey says it has recovered the bodies of two pilots whose jet was shot down by Syria on June 22.  A nationally-televised state funeral for the two is set for Friday.  The downing of the jet has strained relations between the two countries.

The pilots’ bodies and part of their jet’s wreckage was located with the help of oceanographer Robert Ballard and his team aboard the deep-sea exploration vessel Nautilus.  Ballard, of course, is best known for locating the wreck of the Titanic.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


US Lauds Syrian Pilot's Defection

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Pentagon on Thursday praised the bravery of a Syrian Air Force pilot, who defected to Jordan in a Russian-made fighter jet.

At a press briefing, spokesman George Little told reporters, "We have long called for members of the Syrian armed forces and members of the Syrian regime to defect and abandon their positions rather than be complicit in the regime's atrocities."

Little was unable to say if the U.S. would be allowed to interview the pilot, identified as Col.l Hassan Merhi al-Hamadah by the Syrian Ministry of Defense.

The pilot isn't the first to desert the Syrian government and military, Little said, who predicted that others would follow suit as they reject the violent policies of President Bashar al-Assad.

Al-Hamadah won't have to worry about retribution from his country as Jordan quickly announced that it was granting him asylum.

While the pilot's motivation for defecting was not known, it's believed he may have been responding to a report that the air force was getting ready to use fighter jets against Syrians.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Poison-Needle Assassination Plot Busted in South Korea

Siri Stafford/Photodisc/Thinkstock(SEOUL, South Korea) -- South Korean officials have arrested a North Korean defector in an alleged poison-needle plot targeting a high-profile anti-Pyongyang activist.

The suspect, only identified by the police as Ahn, is said to be a former commando in his 40s who defected to South Korea in the late 1990s.  The target was activist Park Sang-hak.  A North Korean defector himself, Park leads a group called Fighters for Free North Korea that routinely flies balloons over the two countries’ border with leaflets criticizing the Pyongyang government.

Ahn was reportedly trying to arrange a face-to-face meeting with Park earlier this month, but South Korean authorities told Park not to proceed fearing an assassination attempt.  Ahn was picked up by police shortly after allegedly carrying poison-tipped needles.  The authorities told Park that the suspected assassin had planned to either poison his drink or jab him with the needles.

Investigators and intelligence officials have not officially commented on the case and have avoided linking this plot directly to North Korea.

The North and South Koreas are still technically at war and Pyongyang has been known to deploy infiltrators and agents to kill targets in the South.  Just last year, a South Korean court jailed two North Koreans posing as defectors.  They confessed that they were on a secret mission to assassinate Hwang Jang-yop, the most senior official ever to defect from North Korea.  North Korea denied any existence to such a plot.

In this latest case, if Ahn is charged under South Korea’s National Security Law, he could face the death penalty.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Libyan Defector Could Link Gadhafi to Lockerbie Bombing

KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) -- British prosecutors say they hope that defected Libyan Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa will provide valuable new information on Moammar Gadhafi's suspected role in the fatal 1988 terror bombing of Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.

Koussa, a longtime ally of Gadhafi, is the most senior member of the regime to defect. British officials Thursday said the one-time intelligence chief had not been offered immunity for the information he might provide.

"There is no deal. He arrived late last night. There are discussions going on. This is going to take some time. It is early days," said a government spokesman.

"We have notified the Foreign and Commonwealth Office that the Scottish prosecuting and investigating authorities wish to interview Mr. Koussa in connection with the Lockerbie bombing," the spokesman said. "The investigation into the Lockerbie bombing remains open and we will pursue all relevant lines of inquiry."

News of Koussa's arrival in the U.K. quickly spread to Washington, where members of Congress were interested to know if American justice officials would also have access to Koussa for questioning.

"Secretary Clinton has taken a very strong personal interest in the Pan Am 103 victims," Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg told the House Foreign Affairs Committee Thursday morning.

"The Department of Justice has a considerable interest in a number of these issues. Because there are ongoing investigations, I'm not in a position to comment on them," he said, adding, "We, obviously, take this decision by the Libyan foreign minister very seriously."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 


Nuclear Scientist Detained and Tortured in Iran?

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(TEHRAN, Iran) -- Shahram Amiri, the Iranian nuclear scientist who returned to Tehran in July after what he called a "kidnapping" by the CIA, has been held in detention by Iranian authorities for two months and tortured so badly he was hospitalized, according to a dissident Iranian Web site.

An article on claims that an unnamed family source says Amiri was held in a safe house after his much-publicized return to the country.  He was allowed to have supervised visits with family members before being moved to a prison in Tehran in October for interrogation.

Amiri, a professor at Tehran's Malek Ashtar University, defected to the U.S. in 2009 after funneling Iranian nuclear secrets for the CIA for several years while still inside the Iranian nuclear program, American officials told ABC News.

Amiri was a key source for the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate that concluded the Iranian nuclear weaponization program had been halted after 2003, according to a former senior U.S. intelligence official.  The CIA began pushing Amiri to flee after publication of the NIE, said the official, because the agency feared the Iranian government would discover Amiri's role in providing the information.  Amiri disappeared while on pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia in June 2009, and then resurfaced in the U.S., first at an apartment in Tucson, Arizona and then at an apartment in Springfield, Virginia.

After more than a year in the U.S., Amiri claimed he had never really defected.  In a series of videos released on the Internet in early 2010, he insisted he had been kidnapped, drugged and tortured by the CIA.  He claimed he was trying to elude U.S. agents so he could be reunited with his wife and son in Iran. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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