Daily Press Briefing - August 8, 2016

Elizabeth Trudeau
Director, Press Office
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
August 8, 2016


2:01 p.m. EDT

MS TRUDEAU: Good afternoon, everyone. A few things at the top. I think you’ve seen our statement that just was released on Pakistan. The United States condemns in the strongest terms the terrorist attacks today in Quetta, including the murder of Bilal Anwar Kasi, president of the Baluchistan Bar Association, in the bombing at the Civil Hospital that killed dozens of Pakistanis and wounded many others. We send our deepest condolences to the loved ones of those killed and injured, and we offer our assistance to Prime Minister Sharif as his government investigates and works to bring these murderers to justice. These terrorists targeted a hospital, the judiciary, and the media, the most important pillars of democracy. These brutal and senseless attacks only deepen our shared resolve to defeat terrorism around the world. We’ll continue to work with our partners in Pakistan and across the region to combat this threat.

Next, on Macedonia, the United States expresses its condolences to all those in Macedonia who have suffered in the recent flooding. The people of Macedonia are in our thoughts and prayers as they mourn the dead, treat the injured, and address the extensive losses and damage caused.

With that, Matt.

QUESTION: Okay. I don’t have a lot today, but let’s start with seeing if I can get an answer to a question that I asked – that was asked twice last week, having to do with Iran and the $400 million shipment. And that question is: Are you now able to say whether or not the plane with the money landed before the plane with the prisoners took off from Tehran? Because as you may know, since the question was last asked on Thursday, one of the former prisoners said that they had to wait for this other plane, or at least another plane to arrive. Are you able to shed any more light on that?

MS TRUDEAU: So I’m not going to get into the tick-tock of specifics, but claims that our freed Americans were not allowed to depart Iran until a plane full of cash landed anywhere are false. As U.S. officials have previously publicly discussed, there was a delay in our citizens being released that day that had nothing to do with the Hague settlement and was related to resolving some last-minute issues solely related to the prisoners – most importantly, locating and ensuring all of the individuals who were involved with the prisoner swap were on the plane and ready to depart – Mr. Rezaian, Mr. Abedini, Mr. Hekmati. Suffice it to say getting all the pieces put into place, making sure our citizens were released, and with our reciprocal goodwill gesture of providing relief to certain Iranian citizens here in the United States, required delicate diplomacy up to the end. So I think that answers your question.

QUESTION: Okay. I missed the part where you said that – when the plane arrived.

MS TRUDEAU: Yeah. We – it was the question if there was a delay before the taking off until a plane coming down. It was false.

QUESTION: There was not. So in other words --

MS TRUDEAU: There was not a delay.

QUESTION: In other --

MS TRUDEAU: There was no timing that was associated between the two.

QUESTION: Okay. Well, whether or not you intended for there to be timing or not, is it correct that the plane with the money landed before the plane with the prisoners took off?

MS TRUDEAU: No. Claims that the freed Americans were not allowed to depart until a plane full of cash – and I’m doing that in air quotes – are just false.

QUESTION: Yeah, but still, in terms of the timing of it, did one arrive before the other left?

MS TRUDEAU: There was no delay in allowing the Americans to leave.

QUESTION: But you just said there was a delay and it was related to the --

MS TRUDEAU: Well, there was no delay waiting for a second plane full of cash.



QUESTION: I understand that you don’t want to draw any connection between the two things. I just want – I just want to know whether or not the plane with the money landed before the plane with the prisoners took off.

MS TRUDEAU: Yeah, I’m not going to get into a tick-tock. What I do, though, want to disassociate the idea – that you haven’t said but has been in the public narrative – that there was some sort of tie between the two.

QUESTION: Yeah, I realize that you guys don’t think there was. But it seems a very simple question to ask whether or not the plane with the money landed before the plane with the prisoners took off. I mean, I don’t --

MS TRUDEAU: Yeah, I’ve – I have no exact tick-tock on that. What I do know is that the plane with the Americans was only delayed being – taking off because of logistics that were associated with the people on board.

QUESTION: All right. And then also on Iran --


QUESTION: -- you probably will have seen that the Iranians yesterday confirmed the execution of this nuclear scientist who had come to the U.S. and then left. Given the fact that he was here and that you all spoke about it at the time that he returned to Iran, I’m wondering if you have any thoughts about this, if you’re trying to track it any more closely than you would another case.

MS TRUDEAU: Well, what I’d say is, of course, we’ve seen those reports. We reaffirm our calls on Iran to respect and protect human rights, to ensure fair and transparent judicial proceedings in all cases. We have consistently and publicly expressed our concerns about Iran’s human rights record through a range of channels. As you know, we include a large number of Iranian cases in our annual Human Rights Report, in our International Religious Freedom Report. We also partner with other countries to discuss this in the UN General Assembly and the UN Human Rights Council.

QUESTION: So the way you’re – the way that the Administration is looking at it then is as – is as a case, just a human rights – potential human rights violation case, not anything special because of his --

MS TRUDEAU: Correct.

QUESTION: -- his past? Okay.

QUESTION: And do you believe that he did not receive due process?

MS TRUDEAU: What I would say is that we’ve raised our concerns on that. I’m not going to speak specifically about this case. As Matt indicated, we were very public about this case when he chose to return to Iran. I’m just going to let our comments --

QUESTION: But why – I mean, you’re talking generally about concerns about due process, but we’re asking about a specific individual. Do you think he got due process or not?

MS TRUDEAU: Yeah, I couldn’t speak to Iranian judicial procedures related to this specific case. When this individual chose to return to Iran, we obviously spoke about it then. As I said, we’ve made our concerns known writ large around Iranian due process, around Iranian respect for human rights.

QUESTION: Okay. Can we move to --

MS TRUDEAU: Sure. Matt, you’re good?


QUESTION: -- East Asia?


QUESTION: Two topics.


QUESTION: One, what is your assessment of the vote in Thailand about the referendum there? And in particular, do you believe (a) that the environment in the country prior to the vote was conducive to a free and fair vote without intimidation; and (b) do you believe that the approval of the new constitution, including the provisions reserving seats for the military or military-chosen lawmakers, is a good thing for democracy?

MS TRUDEAU: Okay, so I have quite a bit to say on this, so thank you for the question.

We do note that Thailand’s electoral commission has announced preliminary results that a majority of Thai citizens who voted in the national referendum on August 7th approved a proposed constitution. We do, in response to your second question, remain concerned that the drafting process for the constitution was not inclusive, that open debate was not permitted in the run-up to its adoption. Once the results are final – again, we understand these are preliminary results – we urge Thai authorities to proceed with next steps to return Thailand to elected, civilian-led government as soon as possible. As part of the process to return Thailand to democracy, we strongly urge the government to lift restrictions on civil liberties, including freedom of expression, the right to peaceful assembly, so the Thai people can engage in an open, unimpeded dialogue about the country’s political future.

QUESTION: And can you address specifically the question of your view of the draft constitution itself and the seats reserved for military-chosen lawmakers?

MS TRUDEAU: So we – I think I’ve raised our concerns on the process leading up to the draft constitution. We raised concerns about it not being inclusive, not being open. And in terms of the reservation for the military seats, as I said, we continue to urge Thai authorities to return Thailand to an elected, civilian-led government as soon as possible.

QUESTION: And then one other one on the Philippines.


QUESTION: You’ll have seen that dozens of Philippine government and police officials turned them in – turned themselves in on Monday, a day after newly inaugurated President Duterte linked them to the drug trade. If I understand it correctly, he, the president, had ordered the police to hunt these people down if they failed to surrender within 24 hours, so a couple of questions here. One is: Is this a good, judicious use of the exercise of the rule of law to demand people surrender and threaten to hunt them down?

And second, what do you think about the hundreds of people who have been killed since Duterte came into office as president? These are – by some estimates it’s 400, by other estimates as many as 800 people have been killed as suspected drug dealers, including some by vigilante squads since he took office. What do you think about that?

MS TRUDEAU: So there’s a lot there. I guess I’d start sort of taking a back step and taking a look at our partnership, which is based on respect for rule of law. We’ll continue in our conversations with Filipino authorities to emphasize the importance of this fundamental democratic principle. We, as you know, and you’ve heard us say many times from this podium speaking broadly is we believe in rule of law. We believe in due process. We believe in respect for universal human rights. We believe fundamentally that those aspects ensure and promote long-term security. We are concerned by these detentions, as well as the extrajudicial killing of individuals suspected to be involved in drug activity in the Philippines. We strongly urge the Philippines to ensure its law enforcement efforts comply with its human rights obligations.

Okay, Barbara.

QUESTION: Change in topic?

QUESTION: No, can I stay --

MS TRUDEAU: Are you guys – I’m sorry, I’ve got one more on Philippines, then I’ll go to you.

QUESTION: If I may --

MS TRUDEAU: Of course.

QUESTION: Is that true the United States recently announced $32 million in assistance to Manila’s efforts to fight against drug trafficking?

MS TRUDEAU: Okay. So the 32 million is not new funding. So I actually need to correct you there. It’s rather cumulative funding previously appropriated that we’re currently implementing. Assistance provided to these funds, I’d like to emphasize, is subject to the same vetting that our other security assistance is. So all of our security assistance promotes human rights through training content and by promoting professionalism, due process, and rule of law.

QUESTION: I just want to clarify.

MS TRUDEAU: Of course.

QUESTION: So the 32 million should not be used in any activities involve actual judicial killings?

MS TRUDEAU: Extra – no, exactly.

QUESTION: And I don’t know if you saw the reports recently come out from Duterte have some very strong words she said about U.S. ambassador to Philippines, Ambassador Goldberg.


QUESTION: Given the remarks being so insulting to U.S. envoy, how do we – how should we expect a cordial cooperation between the two?

MS TRUDEAU: I would say two things on that. The first, specifically on the remarks, we’ve seen those inappropriate comments made about Ambassador Goldberg. He’s a multi-time ambassador, one of our most senior U.S. diplomats. We have asked the Philippines charge to come into the State Department to clarify those remarks.

QUESTION: When did you call the charge in?

MS TRUDEAU: I understand that that happened today.

QUESTION: And what did you – besides just asking for clarification, I mean, what did you --

MS TRUDEAU: I’m not going to read out that detailed conversation, but it was specifically on those remarks.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MS TRUDEAU: Hold on. Yeah.

QUESTION: What were – were there specific remarks that were raised with the charge?

MS TRUDEAU: Yes, specific remarks that were made about our ambassador to the Philippines.

QUESTION: I know, and I’m aware of what they were. But was there anything that was more egregious in what was said than --

MS TRUDEAU: No, I’m not going to detail that conversation. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Yeah, just two questions about Turkey.


QUESTION: Turkish officials have said they’ve asked – they want a number of people associated with Gulen extradited as well. Can you tell us anything about that? Have they made any requests, who these people are and what association they have with him?

MS TRUDEAU: Yeah. As always, and I think we’ve spoken at this quite a bit about Mr. Gulen himself, the extradition process is a formal, legal, technical process. We’re not going to unpack that. In terms of other extradition requests coming in, I just have no information. I couldn't speak to that.

QUESTION: And they said today also in Turkey that 10 foreigners – foreign nationals have been arrested associated with him. Do you have any information about that? Were any of them Americans?

MS TRUDEAU: I have no information on that.

QUESTION: And just now a quick change of topics since I’m speaking.

MS TRUDEAU: Well, you know what, any more on Turkey? I’m sure we have more on Turkey. Barbara, let’s close this out and then we’ll go back.


MS TRUDEAU: Go ahead.

QUESTION: I was wondering if you have any travel announcement for Secretary Kerry, because there are reports suggesting that Secretary will be in Turkey on August 24th.

MS TRUDEAU: I have no travel to announce. Anything more on Turkey?

QUESTION: Yeah. Do you have any comments on what Mr. Erdogan just said, that he’s going to – he wants to improve relations with Russia and work with Russia in the fight against ISIS and many other issues? Does that – first of all, does that concern you? Do you have any comment on that? Does that in any way puts the spotlight on sort of strained U.S.-Turkish relations?

MS TRUDEAU: I guess what I would do is emphasize where we’ve been since this failed coup. Turkey is a friend. It’s a NATO ally. It’s a partner. We stand with Turkey as they continue to work through this. This isn’t a zero-sum game, and certainly the fight against Daesh is something that concerns all of us regardless of where we are in the world – not just Daesh, but violent extremism writ large. So I’ve seen Mr. – President Erdogan’s comments. I wouldn’t have anything specific more than that to read out.

QUESTION: So why do you think – I mean, how do you explain this insistence right across the whole political, media, and so on – fabric of Turkey – that they insist that somehow the United States was involved with this coup in one way or another?

MS TRUDEAU: We’ve --

QUESTION: This just keeps on going. It has not --

MS TRUDEAU: Yeah. We’ve spoken about that, Said.

QUESTION: I understand, but --

MS TRUDEAU: We’ve dismissed it absolutely as absurd, as without fact. I’m not going to back every piece of rhetoric that we see in reporting. I can’t tell you if it’s accurate. But what I can tell you is accurate is that we stand with the democratically elected government of Turkey, as well as the Turkish people.

QUESTION: So do you --

MS TRUDEAU: Anything – wait. Are we staying on Turkey, Said?

QUESTION: I’m done.

MS TRUDEAU: Okay. More on Turkey?


MS TRUDEAU: Go ahead.

QUESTION: President Erdogan, as you know, has been pushing for Turkish national reconciliation in the wake of the attempted coup with all parties except the pro-Kurdish HDP, which is conspicuously left out of this national reconciliation. Do you have any comment on that? Do you think it is a prudent idea?

MS TRUDEAU: I wouldn’t speak to that at all. I think what President Erdogan does as he continues to build reconciliation and continue building Turkish democracy is for him to speak to.

QUESTION: You actually believe that he is building reconciliation?

MS TRUDEAU: I would say that --

QUESTION: They’ve arrested 60,000 people, right, since the coup.

MS TRUDEAU: And we’re aware of this.

QUESTION: Is that reconciliation?

MS TRUDEAU: What I would say is that we have spoken about this a lot. We’ve spoken about our concerns with Turkey both publicly and privately, and speaking specifically to comments on which party he’s talking to and the logistics and where and when, I’m just not going to speak to at all.

QUESTION: Okay. But do you believe that he is promoting reconciliation?

MS TRUDEAU: I think that --

QUESTION: Because there are a lot of people who believe that he’s going after anybody who he thinks is an opponent to his rule.

MS TRUDEAU: I think that – what are we? We’re 20 days away from what was a failed coup attempt. I think that this was a profoundly – it was a critical period for Turkey, and I think Turkey is still working through that. As we stand with Turkey, as they continue to investigate, as they continue to work through this, we have raised our views on – as they respect international norms and human rights within Turkey.

QUESTION: But usually if there is a minority, ethnic or religious, which is discriminated against in some country, the United States expresses – and rightly so – some objection. In the case of the Kurds of Turkey, they had nothing to do with the coup – even Erdogan isn’t claiming that – but still they are excluded from this national reconciliation that he’s promoting. That seems to be okay with you?

MS TRUDEAU: No, I think it’s a question, as I said, that you need to speak to Turkey about.

More on Turkey?


MS TRUDEAU: Wait. Do we have one more? And then we’re going to go to Barbara, because I owe her one. Are we on Turkey?


MS TRUDEAU: Go ahead, Abbie.

QUESTION: Do you have any further information on the 10 foreigners who were arrested in the sense – are you actively trying to find out more about whether Americans were involved or --

MS TRUDEAU: Yeah, I just have no information on that at all. I’ve seen the same reports.

Okay, anything more on Turkey? Then we’re going to go to Barbara, then we’ll go over to Syria.

QUESTION: Syria as well --

MS TRUDEAU: Well, there we go.

QUESTION: So just your response on the opposition in Aleppo, opposition forces breaking through the siege. Do you welcome that? Because this should presumably bring in some humanitarian access to that part of the city.

MS TRUDEAU: So what I would say is, first, it’s an extremely fluid situation in Aleppo. We continue, as you can imagine, as the other members of the international community, to monitor this very closely. I believe you saw the UN met today on this; I think you saw Ambassador Power’s remarks on this. This is really where we’re focused: All parties must open for delivery of humanitarian supplies to all residents of Aleppo. We are very focused on the impact on civilians right now. As we’ve said, the style of starvation tactics, denial of humanitarian goods, targeting of civilians are never justified. In terms of sort of operations on the ground, who’s in control of what, it’s a very fluid situation now. We’re – we continue to get readouts and reports on that.

QUESTION: But we saw the footages that the opposition --


QUESTION: -- broke the siege on eastern Aleppo. In principle, do you support such a movement --

MS TRUDEAU: In principle, we support access for the civilians there to get the humanitarian support they need. We support an inflow of medical aid, food aid, water, potable water. That’s really our focus on that. In terms of how sustainable that is, in terms of where the fighting groups on the ground, I’m just – I just can’t speak to it because it is so fluid.

QUESTION: But do you see it as a positive development?

MS TRUDEAU: I think the positive development is seeing civilians get the humanitarian aid that they need.

QUESTION: So you’re not alarmed that there is an assault by opposition groups on Aleppo? I mean, you expressed a great deal of alarm when the situation was reversed, when government forces, so --

MS TRUDEAU: What we are alarmed about is any party targeting civilians, any civilian being impacted by this sort of fighting. And as we said today at the UN, as we’ve said repeatedly, our priority right now is that humanitarian access.

QUESTION: Are you concerned that the opposition groups are using American arms, such as antitank missiles and so on, and how they – how did they get their hands on it? Was it --

MS TRUDEAU: Yeah, yeah --

QUESTION: -- through the CIA or --

MS TRUDEAU: Yeah, I’m not – I can’t speak to sort of equipment.

QUESTION: -- or some of your allies?

MS TRUDEAU: And again, I’m not going to speak to operations on the ground. As I said, humanitarian access right now today is number one for us.

QUESTION: Would you be concerned if, let’s say, some of your allies, like the Saudis or the Qataris, were providing the opposition with American-made weapons without clearing it with you first, such as the TOW missiles?

MS TRUDEAU: I mean, certainly, our end-use agreement with weapons is something that we track very closely, Said.

QUESTION: Afghanistan.

MS TRUDEAU: Are we – wait. Hold on one second. Let’s finish up Syria.

Go ahead, Michel.

QUESTION: Any talks with the Russians about the situation in Aleppo in the last --

MS TRUDEAU: So as you know, we continue to have those conversations at Geneva. We continue to have discussions on this. In terms of what the situation is on the ground on Aleppo, of course we continue to see the same information.

QUESTION: But any breakthrough? Any --

MS TRUDEAU: Yeah, I have no update on that from where we were last week.

Are we done with Syria? Let’s go to Afghanistan.

QUESTION: Afghan officials are worried that the Taliban may be forging an informal alliance with ISIL in eastern Afghanistan. Just today Afghan General Mohammad Zaman Waziri was quoted as saying, “They fought deadly battles with the Taliban before. But over the past two months, there has been no fighting among them.” Is the U.S. concerned about a possible alliance between ISIL and the Taliban?

MS TRUDEAU: Yeah. So we are – thank you for the question. We’re aware of the reports. We’re obviously monitoring for the presence of Daesh-affiliated individuals and groups in Afghanistan. We remain actively engaged with the Government of Afghanistan, as well as our partners in the region, to deny terrorist organizations such as Daesh or their branches safe haven and material support.

In terms of the confirmation, if they are working together, I just don’t have any confirmation I can provide at that time. We’ve seen the same reports.

QUESTION: All right. Is it still U.S. policy to reconcile with the Taliban?

MS TRUDEAU: We believe the Taliban have a choice. Rather than continuing to fight their fellow Afghans and destabilizing their country, we believe they should engage in a peace process and ultimately become a legitimate part of the political system of a sovereign, united Afghanistan supported by the international community.

QUESTION: The Taliban now seem all but willing to engage in a reconciliation process. Are you worried that they may reconcile with ISIL instead?

MS TRUDEAU: I think I’ll leave my comments where I said. The Taliban have a choice; we’ve made that choice clear. I think the Afghan Government has also made that choice clear.

QUESTION: Another on Afghanistan?

MS TRUDEAU: Of course.

QUESTION: Do you have anything on – apparently, there was an American along with an Australian abducted in Kabul on Sunday night. Do you have anything on that – near the American university of Afghanistan?

MS TRUDEAU: So you’ve all seen those reports. Due to privacy considerations, I have nothing further to add at this time.

QUESTION: Okay. Can you tell us – I believe earlier in the year, you guys put out a warning. What’s the overall – your current assessment of just the security threat to American citizens in Kabul and Afghanistan right now?

MS TRUDEAU: So I would direct you – and thank you for that, because that was a great lead-in – travel.state.gov. Travel to all areas of Afghanistan remains unsafe. We do note that the U.S. embassy’s ability to provide emergency consular assistance to U.S. citizens in Afghanistan is severely limited. For the latest on that though, check out travel.state.gov. There is a Travel Warning in place.

Do we have more on Afghanistan? I’m sorry, Said.

QUESTION: Can we stay in the region – Pakistan?

MS TRUDEAU: Are you okay? Let’s do Pakistan.

QUESTION: I saw your statement, opening statement on Quetta --


QUESTION: -- and Pakistani Taliban has claimed credit for it. Do you believe that Pakistani Taliban --

MS TRUDEAU: I’ve seen a number of claims of responsibility for that. I’m not in a position to confirm any of that. I’d refer you to the Government of Pakistan on that. Regardless of who’s responsible for this act of terror, we condemn it.

QUESTION: Have they sought any assistance from you in investigating --

MS TRUDEAU: We’ve offered assistance. I don’t have any feedback if they’ve accepted.

QUESTION: Have SRAP or the Secretary been able to contact, talk to their counterparts?

MS TRUDEAU: I don’t have calls to read out now, but you know, I think, that our ambassador remains in close touch with Pakistani authorities.

QUESTION: This also did a question on – there was a press conference in Karachi today by Syed Salahuddin in which he said that – he basically sort of threatened of nuclear warfare between India and Pakistan. How do you see such statements coming from terrorist leaders inside Pakistan?

MS TRUDEAU: Okay, and the name again?

QUESTION: Syed Salahuddin.

MS TRUDEAU: I – what I would say is I’ve seen those comments. We believe that regional safety and security actually is the responsibility not only of the two countries to speak directly to each other but also to have that support within the broader international community. I’m not going to respond to every piece of rhetoric that I’ve seen coming out of that. Of course violence is a concern to us, but what I would say is that issues like this are best resolved through dialogue between those countries.

QUESTION: Do you consider --

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MS TRUDEAU: I’m sorry, are – one more second. Last one.

QUESTION: Yeah. Do you consider this as a rhetoric or are you --

MS TRUDEAU: I think --

QUESTION: -- worried about such statements coming out from leaders who have close contacts with some people in the establishment?

MS TRUDEAU: I wouldn’t characterize something out of hand as rhetoric. What I would say is I’ve seen reports, and anything that doesn’t lead to a calm and peaceful and moderate resolution of differences then is not helpful.


QUESTION: Can we go to the Palestinian-Israeli issue?

MS TRUDEAU: Of course we can.

QUESTION: First of all, let me ask you about the Palestinian Authority. The police of the Palestinian Authority last week severely beat Palestinian children and, in fact, broke their arms, their legs in some instances. They were demonstrating against power cut. Now, this police is trained and financed by the United States of America. Do you have a position on this?

MS TRUDEAU: Well, we obviously condemn violence against innocent civilians. I haven’t seen these particular reports, but I would say that is our broad position on that.

QUESTION: Well, the – we often talk about Israel and the Palestinians in prison, but also in PA prisons, there seems to be a great deal of abuses – human rights and otherwise – for Palestinian prisoners. How do you keep or how do you maintain – how do you ensure that they continue to adhere to international standards – the Palestinian Authority – considering that it is not really a state but you do maintain some sort of a close observation of what they do, correct?

MS TRUDEAU: I would say a few things on that. Certainly I think the conversation with Palestinian leaders is important. I’d also say that the international community plays a very important role in this. I would think that as we take a look at our annual reports, we certainly cite this. Again, speaking specifically to the reports that you indicated, I don’t have a lot of details on that. But violence in prisons is not isolated to any one country; it’s something that I think concerns many countries around the world, and it’s often a system – a question of judicial reform, prison reform, training, transparency.

QUESTION: And I have one last question.


QUESTION: I wanted to ask you about the village of Sussia – the Palestinian village of Sussia – which is about to be demolished, and the inhabitants – 350 inhabitants are about to be removed by the Israeli defense forces or occupation forces. Do you have any comment on that?

MS TRUDEAU: So is this a new settlement or --

QUESTION: This is – it’s been decided sometime back, but now they are going to implement it. They say that these structures were illegally built, and of course this is an old Palestinian village, so --

MS TRUDEAU: So this is a question of demolitions you’re asking?

QUESTION: The question is – yes, right. I mean, in spite of your call --

MS TRUDEAU: We’ve spoken – of course.

QUESTION: I understand.

MS TRUDEAU: I’m sorry, go ahead.

QUESTION: No, I mean, you’re constantly calling from this podium to – urging the Israelis not to demolish, not to – but obviously they’re not listening to you, I mean, so --

MS TRUDEAU: This is a conversation we’ve had a lot, and as we’ve said, we are concerned by the accelerated rate of demolitions undertaken by Israeli authorities that continue in the West Bank as well as East Jerusalem. We’ve discussed this before.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS TRUDEAU: Go ahead.

QUESTION: Yeah, if we can just stay there.

MS TRUDEAU: Of course.

QUESTION: Are you guys watching this world – this case against World Vision?

MS TRUDEAU: We are, Matt.

QUESTION: Do you have anything to say about that?

MS TRUDEAU: So we are aware of the reports an employee at the Gaza branch of World Vision has been charged with redirecting humanitarian assistance funds on behalf of Hamas. We’ve seen the World Vision statement on this as well. We’re very concerned with the allegations. We’re following the Israeli investigation closely. If confirmed, Hamas’ embezzlement of humanitarian assistance funds reaching some of the most vulnerable people would be reprehensible.

QUESTION: Are you concerned that this actually may open – I mean, it would bode very ill for Palestinians that are most in need for this humanitarian aid, because Israel will use this as a pretext to either prevent humanitarian groups from functioning there or restricting them and so on.

MS TRUDEAU: Yeah, that’s a hypothetical. I’m not going to get ahead of the Israeli investigation on this. We’ve made our position clear. We’re in touch with Israeli authorities on this. I don’t think anyone disputes the need where this humanitarian assistance was targeted.

Anything more on this issue? Okay, then let’s move on. Nike.

QUESTION: Right. Another demolition-related question, but this time it’s on Tibet. I wonder if you have anything to say about reports that Chinese has launched demolition against a Tibetan Buddhist institute without their consent.

MS TRUDEAU: Yes, we have seen those reports and we are concerned that Chinese authorities initiated the demolition of residences at Larung Gar Tibetan Buddhist Institute without the consent of the institute’s leaders. We urge authorities to cease actions that may escalate tensions and to pursue forthright consultations with the institute’s leaders to address any safety concerns in a way that does not infringe on the right of Tibetans to practice their religion freely.

Go ahead.



QUESTION: So just following up on the Dr. Amiri case.


QUESTION: As it’s been widely reported and it’s become talked about a lot in recent days that Dr. Amiri was referenced in the emails of former Secretary of State Clinton.


QUESTION: Does the department think that – and some have even charged that there’s a link between that appearance in unclassified emails and the prosecution and execution of Dr. Amiri. Does the department see any linkage between the two?

MS TRUDEAU: So we’re not going to comment on what may have led to this event. But as we spoke about with Matt, there was public reporting on this topic back in 2010. Former Secretary Clinton discussed this issue in public at that time, so this is not something that became public when the State Department released those emails. The press conference that she did was actually July 13th, 2010 where she specifically referenced this issue.

QUESTION: So there’s no – I guess there’s no – not the redactions weren’t looked at or – and anything like that. I mean, is it not policy to re-review the redactions in a case like this or what the policy was on this?

MS TRUDEAU: So I’d say none of the emails that have been raised by the media on this topic were upgraded to classified when they were released to the public through FOIA by the department.


QUESTION: Wait, can I --

MS TRUDEAU: Yes, sir.

QUESTION: I just have to go back to the plane --

MS TRUDEAU: Of course.

QUESTION: The issue of the planes.


QUESTION: And the prisoners. What was the logistical problem that kept them on the ground in Tehran?

MS TRUDEAU: It was locating and ensuring that all of the individuals who were involved with the prisoner swap were on the plane and were --

QUESTION: And how do you know that that wasn’t related to a plane with cash arriving?

MS TRUDEAU: So we feel confident that that was a logistical issue that was solely related to the individuals on the plane.

QUESTION: Right. But how do you know that? Because the Iranians told you or the Iranians couldn’t find someone?

MS TRUDEAU: It was our assessment based on the information we had.

QUESTION: Yeah, yeah. But I mean, there are ways to – there are many countries in the world where you can go through immigration and you’re hit up for a bribe. And they might say that it’s a logistical issue that’s delaying you getting in, but in fact they want some cash. So I’m just curious as to how you’re – why it is that you’re confident that it was an unrelated logistical issue in this case.

MS TRUDEAU: So based on the information that we knew and what was happening on the ground, we’re confident that it was related solely to those individuals.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MS TRUDEAU: Yes, sir.

QUESTION: Thank you. Jahanzaib Ali from ARY News TV. You just condemned the killing of 93 people in the Quetta bomb blast. I’ve just seen your comments. But at one side U.S. condemned the killing of innocent Pakistanis, and on the other side blocking the military assistance. You know about the Pentagon decision last week. Despite knowing the sacrifices Pakistan made in this war against terrorism, you still have the doubts about the sincerity of Pakistani Security Forces in their military operations? I mean, do you really believe that Pakistan is providing shelter to some of the terrorist groups?

MS TRUDEAU: Okay. So when you’re asking specifically about the Department of Defense’s certification of the funding, I’m going to refer you to the Department of Defense. What I will say is that Pakistan has said that they will go after all terrorists regardless of affiliation. I don’t want to politicize this terror attack. This is reprehensible. What I will say is that we stand with Pakistan as they move forward on this fight against terror.

QUESTION: An American citizen, Matthew Barrett, was previously deported from Pakistan on spy charges in 2011; was again arrested for re-entering in the country. Is there any contact with the Pakistani authorities on this?

MS TRUDEAU: So I’ve seen those reports. Due to privacy considerations, I have no information to offer you.

QUESTION: But he was arrested in 2011. Was there any kind of investigation at that time that was he really involved in spying?

MS TRUDEAU: As I said, due to privacy considerations, I have no information to offer.


QUESTION: Japan’s emperor had delivered a video message that implies wishes on his abdication. Does U.S. State Department has any view or reaction to this?

MS TRUDEAU: So we greatly appreciate the emperor’s continuing contributions to the strong and enduring relationship between the United States and Japan. For further details on the emperor’s statement, I’d refer you to the Government of Japan.

And that’s it.

QUESTION: No, no --

MS TRUDEAU: No. One more.

QUESTION: No, no, it is very brief, very brief.


QUESTION: It’s Bahrain.

MS TRUDEAU: Of course.

QUESTION: And I’m – you guys have talked about the case of Nabeel Rajab --


QUESTION: -- numerous times. His trial has now been delayed again. I’m just wondering if you have any thoughts about that, and also reports that he is being denied medical attention.

MS TRUDEAU: So you’re correct. We understand that the – that his next court date has now been scheduled for September 5th. We call on the Government of Bahrain to release Nabeel Rajab, full stop.

QUESTION: Do you have anything about his treatment or do you have concerns about --

MS TRUDEAU: It’s – I would say that representatives of the U.S. embassy in Bahrain attended his last hearing. We’ll continue to stay engaged on this.

QUESTION: No, I know, but I’m wondering if you have any concerns about how he is being treated in custody.

MS TRUDEAU: We’ve raised concerns with the Government of Bahrain, particularly on this case. In terms of his treatment in prison, I have nothing to read out.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS TRUDEAU: Great. Thanks, guys.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:39 p.m.)