A Scottish judge on Thursday shot down attempts to force the government to investigate former President Donald Trump’s purchase of two golf courses there, leaving the matter in the hands of the nation’s top prosecutor.
Just as in the United States, where politicians have failed to hold Trump accountable and it’s fallen on local prosecutors to pursue separate investigations, in Scotland the pressure to act is now squarely on Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain.
Scotland’s government has been urged to put Trump through a long-awaited financial colonoscopy for his shady golf resort real estate deals, but Lord Sandison’smeans that officials can keep dragging their feet.
There have long been questions about how Trump came up with a reported $60 million cash in 2014 to acquire Trump Turnberry, a golf resort on the windy, green hills of the Scottish county of Ayrshire.
But when the New York-based watchdog nonprofit Avaaz called for the Scottish government to investigate, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon passed the buck by placing that responsibility squarely on the nation’s top prosecutor. Annoyingly, officials also refused to say whether they were actually taking action or not.
Avaaz sued earlier this year, presenting a case for why ministers should be forced to employ a new anti-money laundering tool, called an “unexplained wealth order.” Targeting him with a UWO is a civil matter, not a criminal one. But it would still force Trump to explain how he came up with the money—or risk having it seized. The lawsuit also tried to put the responsibility on government ministers, who are under political pressure to act against Trump.
The judge, Craig Sandison, held a hearing in October where a government barrister argued that the task should be left up to the country’s chief prosecutor and the entire process should be treated with utmost secrecy.
The government even borrowed the CIA’s infamous “Glomar response” by seeking to “neither confirm nor deny” any investigation.
The judge’s order on Thursday sided entirely with the government, leaving the matter up to Bain, who is essentially the nation’s attorney general. Sandison also held back from indicating whether he thought there was any validity to a potential investigation.
“I wish to make it clear that I express no view whatsoever on the question of whether the [criminal law] requirements were or appeared to be met in the case of President Trump,” he wrote.
And he made clear the government could very well still proceed and one day seek a judge’s permission to examine Trump’s finances.
“Further, for aught yet seen the Scottish Ministers may still make a UWO application in relation to President Trump’s Scottish assets,” Sandison wrote.
But he also stressed that government ministers have “wide discretion” on any eventual decision to use this anti-money laundering tool.
Shortly after the ruling, Avaaz legal director Nick Flynn issued a statement demanding action from Bain.
“The law may have been clarified, but a cloud of suspicion still hangs over Trump’s purchase of Turnberry. By any measure, the threshold to pursue a UWO to investigate the purchase has easily been crossed. The Lord Advocate should take urgent action in the interest of the rule of law and transparency, and demand a clear explanation of where the $60m used to buy Turnberry came from,” he said.
A spokesperson for the Trump Organization’s corporate entity there told The Daily Beast that “Lord Sandison’s decision to reject this ridiculous petition is unsurprising.” Sarah Malone, executive vice president of Trump International Scotland, had previously issued a statement criticizing the lawsuit for “clogging up the courts with this ridiculous charade.”
The Scottish government issued a statement merely acknowledging that a judicial decision was made.
Trump’s two golf courses in Scotland continue to generate questions. Financial documents show that they’ve lost money year after year, racking up millions of dollars in losses—but they remain open.
Iranian terror plot must make West end its appeasement of murderous regime in Tehran – Struan Stevenson
This is not some Hollywood fantasy, but reality. A Belgian court has just passed sentence on four Iranians who were involved in a plot to kill and maim hundreds of people at a rally of the National Council of Resistance of Iran at Villepinte near Paris in June 2018.
There were dozens of Americans and Europeans at the rally, including well-known politicians like Newt Gingrich, ex-speaker of the US House, Theresa Villiers MP, a former UK Cabinet minister, and Stephen Harper, former Prime Minister of Canada. I was there myself and was a plaintiff at the trial in Antwerp on Thursday, sending recorded evidence.
Assadollah Assadi was a senior diplomat from the Iranian Embassy in Vienna. He was arrested by police in Germany after being filmed handing over a powerful explosive device and detonator to two Iranian co-conspirators, Amir Saadouni, 40, and his wife Nasimeh Naami, 36. A third co-conspirator, Mehrdad Arefani, was present at the Villepinte rally as a lookout.
Although all three lived in Belgium as registered refugees, they were in fact trained Iranian agents. Assadi had told them to detonate the bomb as close to Iranian opposition leader Maryam Rajavi as possible.
That is where I was standing, with all of the other political figures. The court heard Assadi had told his co-conspirators that if they couldn’t get close enough to Mrs Rajavi, they should simply throw the bomb into the crowd and detonate it.
Iran’s fascist dictatorship boasts of its ‘different’ human rights as the execut…
The courthouse was surrounded by Iranian opposition supporters and heavily guarded by armed police and military personnel. Helicopters hovered overhead.
The public were prohibited from entering the court on security grounds as the judges announced the maximum 20-year sentence on Assadi for terrorist offences. Naami was sentenced to 18 years, her husband Saadouni to 15 years and the lookout Arefani to 17 years.
The jail terms mark the culmination of an unprecedented trial of an accredited diplomat. Assadi refused to testify or attend court, claiming diplomatic immunity, which was rejected by the judges and has now, following his conviction, been revoked. His co-conspirators have been stripped of Belgian citizenship and will be deported after serving their sentences.
The court case comes as no surprise to those of us familiar with the Iranian regime. The mullahs have a history of deploying their assassins in the guise of diplomats and using their embassies as bomb factories.
In 2018, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama expelled the Iranian ambassador and his first secretary on the grounds they posed a risk to security. Once again these ‘so-called’ diplomats were revealed as trained Ministry of Intelligence and Security (Mois) agents who had been plotting bomb attacks and assassinations of the regime’s opponents.
Since seizing power in the 1979 revolution, the theocratic regime has ruthlessly bombed and shot its opponents around the globe, while torturing and executing political prisoners at home. But this is the first time a diplomat has been caught red-handed and jailed for acts of terror.
Lies and propaganda
The Antwerp court’s verdict must surely mark a turning point in relations with Tehran. There can be no return to business as usual. There can be no more arguments that diplomacy is the answer.
Indeed, on January 19, an Iranian-American, Kaveh Lotfolah Afrasiabi, appeared in a US federal court, 13 years after he allegedly began taking payments from the Iranian regime while presenting himself as an independent expert on foreign relations and political science.
Court documents state that he was paid at least $265,000 for his service to Iran’s theocratic dictatorship, before finally being arrested by the FBI and charged with extensive violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act. [Mr Afrasiabi denies the charges*].
The mullahs’ regime has embedded agents around the world, feeding lies and propaganda to the media and to policy-makers.
The arch-criminal and Supreme Leader of the mullahs is Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. There can be no doubt that he, together with his senior ministers, president Hassan Rouhani, foreign minister Javad Zarif and minister of intelligence Mahmoud Alavi, ordered the spying, the bomb plots and the assassinations.
Khamenei is praying that President Joe Biden will quickly restore Barack Obama’s deeply flawed Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the nuclear deal that was unceremoniously dumped by Donald Trump.
He is praying the US will lift the sanctions which prevented Iran from selling oil, crippling its economy. Biden has repeatedly confirmed this is one of his foreign-policy priorities. It will be a grave mistake.
Crimes against humanity
Biden need not think that lifting sanctions will put food back on the table for impoverished Iranians. In fact, it will enable Khamenei to reinforce his funding of Bashar al-Assad’s bloody civil war in Syria, the Houthi rebels in Yemen, the brutal Shi’ia militias in Iraq and the terrorist Hezbollah in Lebanon. It will also enable the mullahs to accelerate their development of a nuclear weapon and ballistic missile delivery systems, which has never ceased.
It is time for a complete change of direction in US, EU and UN policy towards Iran. The people of Iran expect the West to be on their side.
They expect their calls for democracy to be taken seriously. The appeasement policy, lamely followed by the EU, is dead in the water.
Now, following the Antwerp trial, the EU will have to reassess completely its relationship with Iran. The EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, must recall his ambassador from Tehran and every Western nation should follow suit.
Any country that seeks to use terror as statecraft should be debarred from civilised assemblies and held to account in the international courts of justice, their leaders indicted for crimes against humanity.
Struan Stevenson is the coordinator of the Campaign for Iran Change, an international lecturer on the Middle East and president of the European Iraqi Freedom Association
*An editor’s note has been added to this article to state that Kaveh Lotfolah Afrasiabi denies the charges against him
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Battlefield 2042 Game Update 3: Release Date, Patch Notes, Bug Fixes And More
Battlefield 2042 Update 3 is next on the agenda of the developers and we have all of the information you need regarding the upcoming patch.
EA and DICE have had to encounter some rough waters so far after coming under intense scrutiny for the game’s release back in November, mainly down to a high amount of glitches and in-game bugs that many players were coming across.
This was during the Early Access period that some gamers had paid almost £100 for, which resulted in the game being implemented with a day one patch, titled Update #1.
Read more: Battlefield 2042’s Metacritic Score Is Woeful Following Horror Launch
While Update #2 did top off some of the gameplay issues, DICE will likely bring along Update #3. But when exactly will it be released?
Scroll down to find out everything that we know so far regarding Battlefield 2042 Update #3:
At the time of writing, it is not yet known when Update 3 will be brought out.
EA are renowned for not giving gamers any warning regarding patches and will just release straight away and state it is available.
This could change so we will update this section as soon as more information emerges in the coming days, weeks and months – so stick with us and stay tuned!
As mentioned above, the comprehensive list of patch notes from Update 3 have yet to be revealed and will be posted here, as well as all of the respective sections below, as soon as EA and DICE make it public, keep your eyes peeled!
Click below to see all of the updates that have been added to Battlefield 2042 so far:
Battlefield fans! Are you enjoying Battlefield 2042 so far despite the shaky start? Are you still playing or did you get yourself a refund after the first couple of days? Please get in touch and let us know what you think and EA and DICE’s latest addition to the mass warfare series!
You can find all of the latest Battlefield 2042 News and everything Gaming related right here at GiveMeSport.
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