Tue | Feb 25, 2020

US quells extradition intrigue

Published:Monday | January 13, 2020 | 12:33 AM
Donald Tapia, US ambassador to Jamaica.

In a rare move targeted at defusing tensions and intrigue caused by swirling rumours, the United States Embassy yesterday denied claims circulating on social media that extradition requests had been made for Cabinet members in the Holness administration.

The embassy, based in Kingston, usually observes its protocol not to speak about specific cases and generally does not comment on broad bilateral security arrangements.

However, Ambassador Donald Tapia has often not been in lockstep with tradition since his appointment late last year, using social media as a tool for policy declarations, much like his boss, President Donald Trump.

“Contrary to social media rumours, there is no extradition request for any minister of the Jamaican Government from the United States government. The Jamaican Government has been very cooperative with the United States government on these matters,” a pithy statement issued by Charsaree Slomka, an officer in the Public Affairs Section, said late yesterday.

The embassy did not state whether the Jamaican Government had pressed it to comment because of mounting pressure on the administration.


But Jamaica’s Foreign Minister, Kamina Johnson Smith, was quick to pounce on the denial by the US authorities, quipping that the message was telegraphed “for those who prefer not to follow rumours”.

Johnson Smith did not state who her riposte was geared at, but her counterpart senator, Lambert Brown, was a likely target, having launched a vigorous campaign on Twitter to put pressure on Prime Minister Andrew Holness to officially address the matter.

“Don’t blame me. Blame the PM’s silence and the growing level of the distrust in the Holness gov’t,” Brown tweeted, citing a litany of corruption scandals.

But Government Minister Daryl Vaz, whose visa was pulled by Washington last year, hit back at Brown: “‘Wagga wagga’ Lambert. You and your Comrades need to stop the political propaganda despite the silly season.”

People’s National Party Vice-President Phillip Paulwell also lost his US visa last year.