June 20, 2018

U.S. diplomat wanted by police for questioning has left New Zealand

20 March 2017, 05:44 | Winifred Adams

Washington's mission to New Zealand is now without a permanent ambassador since President Donald Trump dismissed most major USA diplomats appointed by his predecessor Barack Obama. This after the embassy refused to waive his immunity during a police investigation.

Police said they were called to an incident in Lower Hutt, on Wellington's outskirts, in the early hours of March 12, which "involved an individual from the USA embassy in Wellington".

He was being investigated by the police for a "serious" crime, but was shielded from the probe by diplomatic immunity.

1News revealed last night that police want to question technical Chris White over an incident in Lower Hutt on Sunday.

The US State Department defines immunity as a 'principle of global law by which certain foreign government officials are not subject to the jurisdiction of local courts and other authorities for both their official and, to a large extent, their personal activities'.

It is not known what occurred, but TVNZ reported that White was allegedly left with a broken nose and a black eye.

For the objective of MFAT's policy, a serious crime is an offence for which the penalty is a term of imprisonment of 12 months or more.

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It is believed White was involved in working alongside New Zealand's spy agency the GCSB, TVNZ reported, although this could not be confirmed.

An American diplomat has been expelled from New Zealand after the US Government refused to waive his diplomatic immunity during a police investigation, according to reports.

Mr McCully said he was kept informed of MFAT's decision to request a diplomatic immunity waiver.

"I was kept informed of MFAT's decision, and I am satisfied with the way the Ministry has conducted this process".

A United States government spokesman earlier said as a matter of policy the USA does not comment on the specifics of matters under investigation.

In turn, the U.S. embassy told the news outlet: "We take seriously any suggestion that our staff have fallen short of the high standards of conduct expected of United States government personnel".

"Any allegations of wrongdoing are always fully investigated".

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