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Mass exodus: More than 80 per cent of Nagorno-Karabakh’s population has fled to Armenia after Azerbaijan launc – Daily Mail

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Mass exodus: More than 80 per cent of Nagorno-Karabakh’s population has fled to Armenia after Azerbaijan launc  Daily Mail

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Separatist Regime in Azerbaijan’s Karabakh Region Announces Self-Dissolution

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The illegal separatist regime in the Karabakh (Garabagh) region of Azerbaijan announced its self-dissolution on Thursday. 

A relevant decree was signed by the regime’s self-proclaimed “president,” Samvel Shahramanyan. The document states, “All institutions and organizations are to be dissolved by January 1, 2024, and the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) ceases to exist.”

It also calls on the Armenian residents of the Karabakh region to become acquainted with the conditions of reintegration presented by Azerbaijan in order to subsequently make an independent and individual decision on the possibility of staying in or returning to the Karabakh region.

The dissolution of the decades-old illegal separatist regime in the territory of Azerbaijan came as the culmination of the latter’s recent anti-terror measures and ensuing reintegration efforts.

From September 19 to 20, the Azerbaijan Armed Forces conducted a counter-terrorism operation in the Karabakh region to disarm the remnants of the Armenian army. The operation followed the intensifying Armenian attacks on Azerbaijani positions and the recent deadly mine incidents, resulting in the deaths of Azerbaijani police officers and road construction workers. By the cessation of hostilities, dozens of military posts, strongholds and equipment of the illegal military formations were disabled.

On September 20, the so-called “defense forces” of the separatists surrendered, agreeing to full disarmament and withdrawal. Since then, the Azerbaijani army, in coordination with the temporary Russian peacekeeping mission in the Karabakh region, has been confiscating arms, ammunition, and equipment from the Armenian army formations. The process will reportedly continue until the illegal armed formations are completely disarmed and removed from the territory of Azerbaijan.

The Karabakh region was outside of Azerbaijan’s control for nearly three decades. During this period, the region was illegally occupied and ruled by Armenia and the separatist regime established and backed by the Armenian authorities. The occupation of the Karabakh region by Armenia was the result of an illegal territorial claim by Armenians with its roots dating back to the Soviet era.

Separatist sentiments in the highland part of the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan rose after it was given the status of so-called Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast (Region) within Azerbaijan by the Soviet rulers in 1923. As a result of continuous relocation of Armenians to the region, they began to claim the Azerbaijani lands as their own. The anti-Azerbaijan sentiments expanded over the years until the late 1980s and early 1990s when it grew into a full-blown war between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Armenia launched a military aggression against Azerbaijan. The bloody war, which lasted until a ceasefire in 1994, resulted in Armenia occupying 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s internationally recognized territories, including the Karabakh region. Over 30,000 ethnic Azerbaijanis were killed and 1 million others were expelled from their lands in a brutal ethnic cleansing campaign conducted by Armenia.

Armenia designed an illegal separatist “government” in the occupied Karabakh region, throwing military and financial weight behind it to consolidate the occupation. Certain parts of the Armenian military were deployed in the region to form the so-called “defense forces.” The separatists were also assisted in establishing their bogus “executive, legislative, and judiciary” structures. By 2023, five self-styled “presidents” were “elected” to rule the separatist regime. The last illegal “elections” took place on September 9, 2023, with Samvel Shahramanyan becoming the next “president” to fill the shoes of the resigned Arayik Harutunyan. The separatists sought “independence” from Azerbaijan, claiming the Karabakh region should never be part of the country.

On September 27, 2020, the decades-old conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan escalated when Armenia’s forces deployed in occupied Azerbaijani lands shelled military positions and civilian settlements of Azerbaijan. During counter-attack operations, Azerbaijani forces liberated over 300 settlements, including the cities of Jabrayil, Fuzuli, Zangilan, Gubadli, and Shusha, from nearly 30 years of illegal Armenian occupation. The war ended with a statement signed on November 10, 2020, under which Armenia also returned the occupied Aghdam, Kalbajar, and Lachin districts to Azerbaijan.

According to Azerbaijani data, up to 25,000 ethnic Armenians live in certain parts of Azerbaijan’s Karabakh region, temporarily monitored by the Russian peacekeeping contingent. Armenia demanded so-called status for this area post-war, while Baku rejected these claims as a threat to the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.

Since late 2020, Azerbaijani authorities have been calling on ethnic Armenians residing in the Karabakh region to eliminate anti-Azerbaijan propaganda and take steps to become part of Azerbaijani society. The Azerbaijani government and people consider the territory partially settled by the Armenian residents as the Karabakh region and the Armenian residents living there as Azerbaijani citizens.

Azerbaijani authorities initiated the reintegration of Karabakh Armenians by arranging a meeting between officials from Baku and representatives of the Armenian residents in the region. The meeting in the town of Khojaly on March 1, 2023, discussed the reintegration of the Armenian residents of the Karabakh region into Azerbaijani society in line with the Constitution and laws of Azerbaijan. The sides agreed to continue contact in the next meetings. The Azerbaijani government even suggested that it take place in Baku. However, due to the refusal of the Armenian side, the process ended in a deadlock.

Following the counter-terrorism measures on September 19-20, the meetings between officials from Baku and representatives of the Armenian residents of the Karabakh region have been resumed.

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UK announces £1 million funding in response to the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh

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The UK will give £1 million to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to support the humanitarian response to the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh.

The UK has announced vital funding to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) as it provides life-saving medication, healthcare and other essential support to vulnerable people in Nagorno-Karabakh and the wider region.    

The £1 million funding will also support ICRC as it works to transport the wounded and help displaced families keep in contact. 

Following a military operation by Azerbaijan to take full control of Nagorno-Karabakh, a significant portion of the ethnic Armenian population has left Karabakh for the Republic of Armenia and face acute humanitarian challenges. 

Minister for Europe, Leo Docherty said: “The situation in Nagorno-Karabakh has placed communities under immense pressure.  The UK’s financial package will help to protect families and provide crucial assistance to the most vulnerable people.”

In calls with the Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan this week, Minister Docherty urged both sides to return to dialogue and ensure unfettered humanitarian access to vulnerable people and communities affected by events in Nagorno-Karabakh.

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NPR News: 09-29-2023 5PM EDT

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NPR News: 09-29-2023 5PM EDT

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More than 80 percnt of Nagorno-Karabakh’s population flees amid Azerbaijan offensive

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YEREVAN, Armenia (AP) — The exodus of more than 80 percent of the population of Nagorno-Karabakh raises questions about Azerbaijan’s plans for the ethnic Armenian enclave following its lightning offensive last week to reclaim the breakaway region.

The Armenian government said Friday evening that more than 97,700 people, from a population of around 120,000, had fled to Armenia since Azerbaijan attacked and ordered the region’s militants to disarm. The enclave’s separatist government said it would dissolve itself by the end of the year after a three-decade bid for independence.

Some people lined up for days to escape Nagorno-Karabakh because the only route to Armenia — a winding mountain road — became jammed with slow-moving vehicles.

Armenian Health Minister Anahit Avanesyan said some people, including the elderly, had died while on the road to Armenia, because they were “exhausted due to malnutrition, left without even taking medicine with them, and were on the road for more than 40 hours.”

On Thursday, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan alleged that the exodus of ethnic Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh amounted to “a direct act of an ethnic cleansing and depriving people of their motherland.” Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry strongly rejected Pashinyan’s accusations, saying the departure of Armenians was “their personal and individual decision and has nothing to do with forced relocation.”

NEWS WRAP: Ethnic Armenians flee Nagorno-Karabakh after Azerbaijan takeover

Laurence Broers, an expert on the Caucasus with the London-based think tank Chatham House, said it was unlikely that significant numbers of Armenians would remain in Nagorno-Karabakh and that “the territory will become homogenous.”

“If you define ethnic cleansing as actions by force or through intimidation to induce a population to leave, that’s very much what the last year or so has looked like,” he said.

During the three decades of conflict in the region, Azerbaijan and separatists inside Nagorno-Karabakh, alongside allies in Armenia, have accused each other of targeted attacks, massacres and other atrocities, leaving people on both sides deeply suspicious and fearful.

While Azerbaijan has pledged to respect the rights of ethnic Armenians in the region, most are now fleeing, because they don’t believe that Azerbaijani authorities will treat them fairly and humanely or guarantee them their language, religion and culture.

In December, Azerbaijan blocked the only road connecting Nagorno-Karabakh with Armenia, accusing the Armenian government or using it for illicit weapons shipments to the region’s separatist forces.

Armenia alleged the closure denied basic food and fuel supplies to Nagorno-Karabakh. Azerbaijan rejected the accusation, arguing that the region could receive supplies through the Azerbaijani city of Aghdam — a solution long resisted by Nagorno-Karabakh authorities, which called it a strategy for Azerbaijan to gain control of the region.

In the 1990s, the Azerbaijani population was itself expelled from Nagorno-Karabakh and hundreds of thousands of people were displaced within Azerbaijan. As part of its “Great Return” program, the government in Baku has already relocated Azerbaijanis to territories recaptured from Nagorno-Karabakh forces in a 2020 war.

Analysts believe Azerbaijan could expand the program and resettle Nagorno-Karabakh with Azerbaijanis, while stating that ethnic Armenians could stay or exercise a right to return in order to “refute accusations that Karabakh Armenians have been ethnically cleansed,” Broers said.

READ MORE: Dozens dead in gas station explosion as Nagorno-Karabakh residents flee to Armenia

A decree signed by the region’s separatist president, Samvel Shakhramanyan, cited a Sept. 20 agreement to end the fighting under which Azerbaijan would allow the “free, voluntary and unhindered movement” of Nagorno-Karabakh’s residents to Armenia.

Some of those who fled the regional capital, Stepanakert, said they had no hope for the future.

“I left Stepanakert having a slight hope that maybe something will change and I will come back soon, and these hopes are ruined after reading about the dissolution of our government,” 21-year-old student Ani Abaghyan told The Associated Press.

“I don’t want to live with the Azerbaijanis,” said Narine Karamyan, 50. “Maybe there are some people who will return to their homes. I don’t want that. I want to live as an Armenian.”

After six years of separatist fighting ended in 1994 following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Nagorno-Karabakh came under the control of ethnic Armenian forces, backed by Armenia. Then, during a six-week war in 2020, Azerbaijan took back parts of the region in the south Caucasus Mountains along with surrounding territory that Armenian forces had claimed earlier. Nagorno-Karabakh was internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan’s sovereign territory.

Armine Ghazaryan, who crossed into Armenia from Nagorno-Karabakh with her four young children, told the AP that it was the second time she had been displaced from her home, saying she had previously sheltered with her children in her neighbors’ basement during the war in 2020.

“At least we live in peace here. At least we stay in Armenia,” she said upon arriving in the Armenian town of Goris.

On Monday night, a fuel reservoir exploded at a gas station where people lined up for gas to fill up their vehicles to flee to Armenia. At least 68 people were killed and nearly 300 others were injured, with more than 100 others still considered missing after the blast, which exacerbated fuel shortages that were already dire after the blockade.

On Friday the State Emergency Service of Nagorno-Karabakh’s interior ministry said 170 remains and body fragments had been collected and would be sent to Armenia for DNA identification.

Avanesyan, the Armenian health minister, said 142 people who were injured after the fuel tank exploded were taken to Armenia for treatment and that some of them were in very serious condition.

On Thursday, Azerbaijani authorities charged Ruben Vardanyan, the former head of Nagorno-Karabakh’s separatist government, with financing terrorism, creating illegal armed formations and illegally crossing a state border. He was detained on Wednesday by Azerbaijani border guards as he was trying to leave Nagorno-Karabakh for Armenia along with tens of thousands of others.

Vardanyan, a billionaire who made his fortune in Russia, was placed in pretrial detention for at least four months and faces up to 14 years in prison. His arrest appeared to indicate Azerbaijan’s intent to quickly enforce its grip on the region.

Another top separatist figure, Nagorno-Karabakh’s former foreign minister and now presidential adviser David Babayan, said Thursday that he would surrender to Azerbaijani authorities who ordered him to face an investigation in Baku.

Emma Burrows contributed to this report from London.

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I am not surprised that Turkiye, Azerbaijan and Russia are often using the same rhetoric– Armenian Speaker of Parliament

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I am not surprised that Turkiye, Azerbaijan and Russia are often using the same rhetoric– Armenian Speaker of Parliament
14:32, 29 September 2023

YEREVAN, SEPTEMBER 29, ARMENPRESS. The war in Nagorno-Karabakh revealed that autocratic regimes, based on the notion that “might is right,” often resolve conflicts through military force, bypassing international mediation, Speaker of Parliament Alen Simonyan said in his speech at the European Conference of Presidents of Parliament in Dublin.

“Today, our democracy continues to face numerous tests. It is endangered by external factors – none greater than military threats to our security and territorial integrity. Understandably, the constant threat of violence has a dire effect on the welfare of our society. Through its drumbeat of hateful, xenophobic rhetoric – accompanied by ultimatums and military aggression – Azerbaijan has created a toxic atmosphere and poisoned the peace process. Feckless responses from the international community have created in Azerbaijan a sense of impunity, worsening the situation in the region. Azerbaijani actions are not confined to Nagorno-Karabakh but extend to the sovereign territories of Armenia, some of which remain under Azerbaijan’s control. Azerbaijan’s approach is to impose its preferred solutions on Armenia through force. For over three years Azerbaijan has refused to return Armenian prisoners of war and other civilians, in defiance of a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights. Moreover, since the Court’s decision, Azerbaijan has kidnapped 2 Armenian soldiers from Armenian territory, bringing the total number of confirmed POWs to 35. I was not surprised that our Turkish colleague approved the use of military force against the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh. I am not surprised that Turkiye, Azerbaijan and Russia are often using the same rhetoric. What I am surprised for is that they are doing so here, at the organization that is founded for protection of human rights,” Simonyan added.

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Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine is antisemitic – opinion

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Kyiv has denounced Russian President Vladimir Putin’s diatribe that the West installed Volodymyr Zelensky, an “ethnic Jew, with Jewish roots, with Jewish origins” as Ukraine’s president to “cover up the glorification of Nazism” as antisemitic. The fact that ethnically, Russian, Ethiopian and Yemenite Jews are diverse, yet share the same heritage, is ignored by Putin’s grotesque classical antisemitic characterization of Jews that is evocative of Der Stürmer.

The dark ironies abound. Despite being accused of being a neo-Nazi plant, Zelensky has stated that his grandfather’s brothers were killed in the Holocaust. Just as Hitler dehumanized Jews before murdering them in his “Final Solution,” Putin uses the same tactics towards Ukraine resulting in him referring to the “anti-human essence that is the foundation of the modern Ukrainian state.”

Putin manipulates the memory of the Holocaust to justify committing ethnic cleansing and genocide to advance his imperialistic ambitions in Ukraine. As part of this strategy, Putin has repeatedly declared that Ukraine is not a real state and should be part of his Russian empire.

The Kremlin has resorted to distorting history and belittling the uniqueness of the Holocaust. In January, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov justified Russia’s war on Ukraine by accusing the US of marshaling European countries to solve “the Russian question” in the same way that Adolf Hitler had sought a final solution to eradicate Europe’s Jews.

In his 2013 book, Anti-Judaism: The Western Tradition, David Nirenberg identified that antisemitism operates as a set of conspiracy theories that are based upon negative stereotypes of Jews that can be applied to any social or historical context. Whether it be the far right across Europe who fear the replacement of white Christians or the alt right in America that fear the influx of Middle Eastern, Central and South Americans, it is the Jews who are vilified for plotting immigration and demographic changes to target white Christians. Facts are deemed incidental to the conspiratorial worldview where antisemitism festers.

A U.S. State Department dossier on Russian disinformation will feature this photo of Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, Jan. 23, 2020. (credit: OFFICE OF UKRAINE PRESIDENT)

On February 27, 2022, three days into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, hundreds of the world’s leading historians and scholars of Nazism and the Holocaust signed a statement: “We strongly reject the Russian government’s… equation of the Ukrainian state with the Nazi regime to justify its unprovoked aggression. This rhetoric is factually wrong, morally repugnant and deeply offensive to the memory of millions of victims of Nazism and those who courageously fought against it.”

None of the new set of Russia’s elites who guaranteed their wealth by maintaining political ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin or the old set of Russian oligarchs that acquired wealth in the aftermath of the Cold War but who have since divested any interest in Russia have strongly repudiated Putin’s antisemitic rhetoric and minimization of the Holocaust.

This extends to the former president of the European Jewish Congress (EJC), Moshe Kantor who is close to Putin and who the EJC ironically lobbied for him not to be sanctioned by the US and to be removed from the EU’s sanctions list. It would be worthy of satire had it not been tragic that the EJC’s rationale is that sanctioning Kantor would cause the destruction of European Jewish life.

Should Europe’s Jewish life be secured by finances provided by Putin? As has been reported, Kantor is a major shareholder in Russian fertilizer firm Acron, which the UK said provides “vital strategic significance for the Russian government” as it enables Putin to circumvent sanctions and contribute financially to Russia’s war effort in Ukraine.

Antisemitic sentiment popular in Russia

Moreover, should European Jewry be traded for Russia’s Jewish life as Putin’s antisemitic rhetoric is fostering antisemitism in Russia? In 2018, a survey conducted in Russia found that 14% of Russia’s population did not want to have Jews as their fellow citizens. This was compared with 5% in Ukraine. In 2022, Putin threatened to close the offices of the Jewish Agency that was responsible for maintaining Russia’s Jewish communal life for its roughly 150,000 Jews and that had facilitated a mass exodus of nearly one million Jews that emigrated to Israel.

There were 86 members of my family who perished in the Holocaust’s slaughter of six million Jews. I find it shameful for their memory to be distorted by Putin’s attempt to commit genocide in Ukraine today. It is incredibly cynical for Putin’s oligarchs to avoid being sanctioned by associating themselves with the well-being of European Jewry while enabling Putin to circumvent sanctions. Furthermore, failing to decry Putin’s antisemitic pronouncements is to enable him to promote greater antisemitism in Russia and slaughter innocent civilians in Ukraine.

The silence in the face of Russian atrocities in Ukraine runs contrary to Elie Wiesel’s oft mentioned maxim that the Holocaust must make us sensitive to the plight of others. To be silent at false historical equivalences created between the Holocaust and Russia’s conflict in Ukraine in which Putin advances ethnic cleansing and genocide for his own imperialistic ambitions is to do the exact opposite.

The writer is a board member of the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Partnership for Peace Fund and former president of the Advisory Board for the Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism & Policy (ISGAP).

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Russian Presidential Foundation Awards $16M to Pro-War Culture Projects

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President Vladimir Putin’s cultural support foundation has awarded 1.6 billion rubles ($16.4 million) to arts and culture projects that drum up support for the war in Ukraine.

Russia’s Presidential Foundation for Cultural Initiatives on Thursday announced 303 winners of its annual competition for receiving state funding, with projects including music festivals featuring songs about the war in Ukraine, patriotic-infused art installations and a movie about a pro-Russian separatist leader.

“Mirnyi Atom” (“Peaceful Atom”), a detective TV series about a Russian engineer who travels to the occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, won the largest grant of 49 million rubles ($500,000).

The creators of “Mirnyi Atom” said they hope to show the TV series in schools across Russia.

The second largest grant was awarded to a music production studio for “new patriotic talent,” which secured funding of 23 million rubles ($235,000).

Journalists have previously reported on the Presidential Foundation for Cultural Initiatives turning into a honeypot for performers and propagandists who are ready to promote the war, with over a billion rubles awarded in last year’s award competition.

Putin established the foundation in 2021 to offer state financial support to non-profits, companies and projects in arts and culture.

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Over 93,000 Armenians have now fled disputed enclave Nagorno-Karabakh – ABC News

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Over 93,000 Armenians have now fled disputed enclave Nagorno-Karabakh  ABC News

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Menendez Indictment Looks Like Egypt Recruiting Intelligence Source, Say Former CIA Officials

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Media coverage of embattled New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez’s indictment has focused on things like gold bars and wads of cash found stuffed in his clothing — the cartoonish elements of the corruption allegations leveled by the Department of Justice.

National security experts, however, say the indictment’s reference to Egyptian intelligence officials and Menendez’s disclosure of “highly sensitive” and “non-public” information to Egyptian officials suggest that, more than a garden-variety corruption scheme, there may be an intelligence element to the charges.

Egypt’s elicitation of information resembles a textbook recruitment pass, an intelligence operation intended to recruit an asset, four former CIA officers told The Intercept.

According to the indictment, Menendez, chair of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was sometimes asked to supply information to an Egyptian businessman who would then communicate it to Egyptian officials. The most sensitive information Menendez is accused of sharing appears to be about staffing at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.

“The request could well be one step in testing his willingness to break rules and laws, and therefore possibly assist Egyptian intelligence in more covert and damaging ways.”

“Menendez sharing embassy staffing information is extremely troubling on a number of levels: It assists Egyptian security services monitoring the embassy and, more importantly, may suggest they viewed Menendez as a source,” said John Sipher, a retired CIA clandestine service officer and nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. “The request could well be one step in testing his willingness to break rules and laws and therefore, possibly assist Egyptian intelligence in more covert and damaging ways.”

Michael van Landingham, a former CIA analyst, told The Intercept, “Reading the indictment, it certainly appears like the Egyptian government was using a classic source-recruitment pattern to get Menendez and his wife to spy for them.”

The former officials’ remarks comes amid a report from a local New York news channel that the FBI has opened a counterintelligence investigation into Menendez. (Menendez, who plead not guilty on Wednesday, did not respond to a request for comment.)

“Senator Menendez’s chairmanship of foreign relations puts him in a bullseye position for foreign intelligence services that are looking to have him make decisions in their favor including military equipment and material decisions on funding,” Frank Figliuzzi, a former assistant director for counterintelligence at the FBI, told NBC. “All of that should be looked at from a counterintelligence perspective.” (The FBI did not respond to a request for comment.)

Since spies operate under diplomatic cover, embassies are an attractive target for intelligence services. Former CIA operations officers speaking on condition of anonymity described how recruitment passes tend to work. The requests start out small — often for information that’s not public, but not necessarily classified — in order to establish what’s called “responsiveness to tasking,” or willingness to collect intelligence on their behalf. Once responsiveness is established, a series of increasingly serious taskings culminates in a “spot payment,” or bribe, which cements the illicit nature of the relationship and can be used as blackmail.

The indictment describes Menendez meeting with the Egyptian businessman Wael Hana and, later that day, seeking nonpublic information from the State Department regarding the number and nationality of people working in the U.S. Embassy in Cairo. That information was later passed to what the indictment describes as an “Egyptian government official.” In another case, according to the indictment, Menendez’s wife Nadine, who was then his girlfriend, passed on a request from Egyptian government officials to the senator. And through Hana, Menendez was introduced to Egyptian intelligence and military officials under the auspices of increasing American food aid to Egypt.

Though not classified, the information about staffing in the U.S. Embassy in Cairo is described in the indictment as “highly sensitive because it could pose significant operational security concerns if disclosed to a foreign government or if made public.” Without notifying his personal staff, the staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which he chaired at the time, or the State Department, Menendez allegedly transmitted a detailed breakdown of the embassy staff to Nadine, who forwarded the message to Hana, who forwarded it to an Egyptian official.

“Menendez as SFRC chair would have definitely known that you shouldn’t share non-public information about something as sensitive as the make-up of an American Embassy in Cairo,” Ben Rhodes, a former top aide in President Barack Obama’s White House, told The Intercept by email. “He is supposed to oversee in part the safety of our diplomats overseas!”

The FBI is reportedly trying to ascertain whether Egyptian intelligence played a role in the bribery scheme for which Menendez is being charged. Hana’s lawyer, Larry Lustberg, has denied that Hana is linked to Egyptian intelligence and maintains that Hana and Nadine Menendez had been friends for years. (Nadine Menendez did not respond to a request for comment.)

To the former U.S. intelligence officials that spoke with The Intercept, the events described in the indictment bear the hallmarks of an effort to recruit an intelligence source. “As an analyst, when you receive a human source report, it comes with a sourcing statement that evaluates the source’s relative position, reliability, access to information, responsiveness to tasking, and track record,” said van Landingham, the former CIA analyst.

James Lawler, a former CIA operations officer and counterproliferation chief specializing in the recruitment of former spies, similarly described the events in the indictment as fitting the pattern of source recruitment.

“As a case officer, I would be looking to establish a solid relationship with future tasking potential (i.e. going for the long play) but cognizant that it may be only a one off,” Lawler told The Intercept in an email. “That said, we’re talking about the head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee! Talk about access! If I were the intel officer, I’d be delighted and thinking I’m going to be promoted!”

He added, “It’s how I recruited assets.”

Daniel Schuman, policy director of Demand Progress, said that overseas recruitment attempts are commonplace. For this reason, he explained, members of Congress and even congressional staffers are routinely offered counterintelligence briefings.

Menendez, in one case described in the indictment, sought to travel to Egypt unofficially and without supervision from the State Department. A trip under such circumstances runs contrary to reporting requirements under the Senate Security Manual.

The three-count federal indictment against Mendendez, unsealed on Friday, paints a damning picture of pay-to-play access with a wide cast of characters, ranging from allies of the Egyptian government to an associate of the tristate-area mob. Three business associates and Nadine Menendez are all named in the legal filing, which claims that Menendez used his position of power to influence federal appointments and protect his longtime friend, Fred Daibes, a New Jersey real estate developer, financier, and longtime Menendez fundraiser.

On Tuesday, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy was joined by Menendez’s fellow New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, in calling for his resignation. “The details of the allegations against Senator Menendez are of such a nature that the faith and trust of New Jerseyans as well as those he must work with in order to be effective have been shaken to the core,” Booker said. “I believe stepping down is best for those Senator Menendez has spent his life serving.”

“Due process is a legal right, but nobody has a right to be a senator. Not being in the Senate isn’t a punishment.”

Booker’s comments follow those made by Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa., the first Democratic senator to call for Menendez’s resignation. Fetterman said he would try to return campaign donations from Menendez in $100 bills stuffed into envelopes like those discovered in Menendez’s house by federal investigators.

Speaker Emerita Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., called the charges against Menendez “formidable” and has said “it would probably be a good idea if he did resign.” Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., the Senate’s second-highest ranking official, has also called for Menendez to step down. Still, high-ranking officials like Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., have not called for his resignation. In a statement, Schumer said Menendez is “a dedicated public servant and is always fighting hard for the people of New Jersey,” adding that Menendez has a right to due process.

Schuman, of Demand Progress, pointed out that questions around Menendez’s legal proceedings are separate from questions of his position in the Senate. “Due process is a legal right, but nobody has a right to be a senator,” he said. “Not being in the Senate isn’t a punishment.”

Menendez has denied the charges, maintaining that the cash seized by authorities was from his personal savings account that he kept for emergencies “because of the history of my family facing confiscation in Cuba.” Menendez, who was born in New York City, also said, “Those behind this campaign simply cannot accept that a first-generation Latino American from humble beginnings could rise to be a U.S. senator and serve with honor and distinction.”

Update: September 27, 2023, 2:03 p.m.
This story has been updated to include a statement from former top Obama administration adviser Ben Rhodes that was received after publication.

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