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UK summons Syrian envoy

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 9:55 AM EDT, Thu October 13, 2011
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Britain is investigating allegations of harassment
  • There are similar concerns in the United States

London (CNN) -- Britain's Foreign Office summoned Syria's ambassador on Thursday because of concerns that Syrian Embassy staffers harassed and intimidated Syrians in the country.

Sami Khiami was summoned Thursday to the Foreign Office "given our continuing concern over reports that Syrian Embassy staff are harassing and intimidating Syrians living in Britain," said a statement.

Speaking after the meeting, Minister for the Middle East and North Africa Alistair Burt said he is "deeply concerned by continued reports suggesting harassment and intimidation by Syrian diplomats in the United Kingdom. In summoning the Syrian Ambassador today the United Kingdom made very clear that any such behavior will not be tolerated and must immediately stop. We will take appropriate action on evidence that such action is happening and continue to encourage anyone who has experienced harassment or intimidation to report this to the Police. They continue to investigate allegations and we are working with them closely."

Similar concerns in the United States about harassment have emerged.

On Wednesday, a Syrian-born naturalized American was ordered held in custody after he was charged for allegedly spying on Syrian protesters in the United States.

Judge Theresa Buchanan at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia ordered Mohamad Anas Heitham Soueid, 47, held until Friday, when there will be a detention hearing.

Soueid, of Leesburg, Virginia, was charged October 5 with conspiring to collect video and audio recordings and other information about people "in the United States and Syria who were protesting the government of Syria and to provide these materials to Syrian intelligence agencies in order to silence, intimidate and potentially harm the protesters," the Justice Department said Wednesday.

The Syrian Embassy in Washington denied the allegations, saying Soueid never worked for the Syrian government to spy on protesters.

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