Saturday 18 December 2010

State Department Leak in the Black Swan Case

Kimberly Alderman has an interesting post: 'State Department Leak in the Black Swan Case' (Dec. 16, 2010) revealing that:
WikiLeaks cables show that U.S. diplomats sought to broker a deal whereby U.S. embassy officials stationed in Spain would provide confidential customs documents prepared by Odyssey to the Spanish government. In exchange, Spain was to assist U.S. efforts to reclaim for U.S. citizen Claude Cassirer a Holocaust-era painting that was allegedly stolen by the Nazis during World War II.
Well this is interesting. The documents would have been prepared in the Gibraltar customs office - through which the so-called Black Swan treasure was exported, so how come they are in the hands of "U.S. embassy officials stationed in Spain"? The text of the full article on AmLaw: As Assange Indictment Looms, WikiLeaks Cables Tie Two Treasure Cases Together does not make this clear. These documents are quite interesting, as some of us would like to know how it is that Gibraltar officials gave permission for the export of a shipload of gold treasure that had as far as one can ascertain just arrived in the port out of the blue. Who was responsible for the decision at what level, and why? Should the items have not been retained until their origin and ownership was properly ascertained?

UPDATE: There has been an interesting article on this explaining the background more fully: Rossella Lorenzi 'Black Swan' Bounty Deal Revealed in Wikileaks Cables, Discovery News, Wed Dec 22, 2010

the leaked cables reveal that as early as 2007, the U.S. embassy handed over to Spanish authorities the customs import documents that Odyssey had filed when bringing the hoard of coins into the United States. "The information was confidential and to be used only for law enforcement purposes," embassy officials warned Spain's director of customs.

Odyssey officials are waiting for additional information “before taking any specific actions,” stated Greg Stemm, Odyssey's chief executive officer. “The possibility that someone in the U.S. government came up with this perfidious offer to sacrifice Odyssey, its thousands of shareholders, and the many jobs created by the company in exchange for the return of one painting to one individual is hard to believe,” the company said in a statement. "It is hard to believe that this really happened. It sounds like something out of a Hollywood script."

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