30 May 2012

West Africa: U.S. Department of Sate Daily Press Briefing: Sierra Leone & Benin


On — Excerpts from the United States Department of State daily press briefing:

MR. TONER: I'm going to have to raise this up. Anyway, welcome to the State Department. Just before we do get started with your questions, I did want to note the sentencing earlier today by the Special Court for Sierra Leone's Trial Chamber, which sentenced Charles Taylor to 50 years in prison for aiding, abetting, and planning war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other serious violations of international humanitarian law, including sexual slavery and the conscription of child soldiers. The conviction of Charles Taylor is a significant moment for the people of Sierra Leone and, I would note, a milestone for justice and accountability.

And I'll take your questions from here.

QUESTION: So you think it's a good thing?

MR. TONER: Yes, we do.

QUESTION: Two quick unrelated questions, actually. First, do you have any comment on the American citizen who was kidnapped in Benin last week?

MR. TONER: I don't have any updates. I don't know. Did this come up yesterday at the briefing?


MR. TONER: It did not. Yeah.

QUESTION: Apparently the Embassy of Nigeria put something out.

MR. TONER: Right. There was - we can confirm that a U.S. citizen has been kidnapped, but due to privacy considerations, I don't - I can't provide any more detail.

QUESTION:  And then in - and then, I'm sorry, in case in Benin, so how actively have you guys been asking this kidnapped person to sign a Privacy Act waiver? Do you know where he is?

MR. TONER: Matt, I know your feelings about this issue.

QUESTION: Has his family said that they don't want you to talk about it?

MR. TONER: We are in contact with his family. I really don't want to go beyond that. It's a very sensitive case. I don't want to speak to it more --

QUESTION: Can you say where and when he was kidnapped?

MR. TONER: I cannot.

QUESTION: Can - has --

QUESTION: It's in Benin somewhere?


QUESTION: Has the family been asked if they would like --

MR. TONER: I'll double-check on that. I believe they have been asked.

QUESTION: I was under the impression that a family couldn't provide - couldn't sign a waiver.

MR. TONER: Again, it varies from case to case, individual to individual. I'll get you a consular official who can walk you through some of the complexities of this.

QUESTION: No, I've been through it many times. I just think it's - I just think that it's ridiculous for you to claim - to hide behind --

MR. TONER: But we can take this conversation offline.

QUESTION: -- Privacy Act, when in fact --

MR. TONER: We can take this offline. It's not hiding behind the Privacy Act.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:37 p.m.)

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