Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum lied to United States Immigration. What other Government has he lied to since becoming the illegal A-G and Minister for Justice?
By VICTOR LAL
Wikileaks has released new batch of cables including those sent from the US Embassy in Fiji to Washington. One of the cables dated 11 May 2008 from US ambassador Larry Dinger to Washington reveal that Fiji's Attorney-General and Minister of Justice Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum had lied on his US visa immigration form. We will let the cable speak to us:
"Fiji's interim Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum phoned Suva media from Vienna on Friday, May 9, to make public his unhappiness at Embassy Suva having denied him a visa to transit Los Angeles to and from a U.N conference in Vienna. He also complained that the U.S. denial came at "the eleventh hour." Sayed-Khaiyum said the interim government (IG) is filing a complaint with the UN in New York. We provide background.
The actual story
Embassy Suva received a dipnote from Fiji MFA on the afternoon of Wednesday, April 30, seeking transit visas of LA for May 6 and 9/10 to facilitate Sayed-Khaiyum's attendance at a meeting in Vienna of the Expanded Pilot Review Group on the implementation of the UN Convention Against Corruption.
The same afternoon, we informed EAP/ANP of the request and sought Washington's response, given that Sayed-Khaiyum is on the Fiji post-coup visa-sanction list. (Note: The USG revoked Sayed-Khaiyum's 10-year visa in early 2007, notifying him by phone and letter. Interestingly, on the transit-visa application, Sayed-Khaiyum checked the box indicating he had never had a U.S. visa revoked.)
On the morning of Friday, May 2, EAP/ANP provided Washington's response to deny the visa. We immediately phoned MFA and followed up with a dipnote, delivered the same day. On Monday, May 5, Sayed-Khaiyum phoned the Embassy and had a polite conversation with DCM Mann, who confirmed the USG denial of the transit-visa request.
U.S. policy re UN-related visa requests
To the best of our knowledge, USG policy on UN-related visas for those on the Fiji visa-sanction list is to allow an exception in those cases where travel is to New York or elsewhere in the U.S. for UN business, acknowledging a U.S. obligation under the UN headquarters agreement.
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form. Can details be trusted?
Similarly, the USG has permitted travel to Washington for World Bank/IMF meetings. In Sayed-Khaiyum's case, the meeting was not in the U.S. but in Vienna; and, as he has demonstrated, he had an alternative route to get there: via Seoul.
Media coverage and reactions
Fiji media have given Sayed-Khaiyum's public complaint reasonable coverage. Over the weekend, Embassy Suva responded to media requests for comment by noting that USG visa sanctions on interim government ministers remain in place. We have not yet commented on the UN angle, though we did so in the past in relation to interim PM Bainimarama's attendance at the UNGA last September.
From what we hear, Sayed-Khaiyum's revelation that the USG denied the visa has given heart to a number of opponents of the IG, who rightly perceive Sayed-Khaiyum to be one of the IG's most outspoken defenders of restraints on human-rights. Such restraints have included deportation of media publishers and, for some Fiji citizens, restraints on travel abroad.
One blog noted over the weekend that last year the IG (Sayed-Khaiyum) refused to permit travel by a Fiji-citizen employee of the UN's Suva office to a UN conference in Tonga. DINGER"
Fijileaks Editor: Khaiyum is yet to respond to questions sent to him.