- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 24, 2011


The press minister at the Bangladesh Embassy is in Washington, not Scotland. He has not lost his passport or credit cards, and he does not need your money.

Swapan K. Saha made all that clear in an e-mail Tuesday to Embassy Row, as he explained that someone hacked into his Yahoo account on Monday and sent out urgent appeals for cash.

“This is a fake e-mail,” Mr. Saha said. “Please ignore the message.”

The fraudulent message sent under his name with his real e-mail address asked recipients to wire money to a phone number in Britain.

“I made a trip to Aberdeen, Scotland, and had my bag stolen from me with my passport and credit cards in it,” the fake message said.

The phony press minister whined about his lack of money to pay his hotel bill and buy an airline ticket. Then, he said, an idea struck him.

“I was thinking of asking you to lend me some quick funds that I can give back as soon as I get in,” he said, adding a note of urgency.

“I really need to be on the next available flight.”

Mr. Saha, a former chief news editor of Bangladesh’s BSS national news agency, was the victim of something called “phishing,” a type of Internet scam.

Fortunately for many recipients, the e-mail came with a warning of “suspicious” content.


A top U.S. diplomat praised the role of religion in combating slavery, as he urged government leaders to protect refugees from smugglers who deal in human cargo.

“Religion has always spread among people treated like the dregs of society. Faith has always been a crutch for those who didn’t have anyone to turn to,” said Luis CdeBaca, at a recent conference at the Vatican.

He noted how Christianity gave hope to slaves in ancient Rome and how the Prophet Mohammed “was an emancipator.” Some accounts say the founder of the Islamic religion freed 40,000 slaves.

Mr. CdeBaca, ambassador-at-large to combat human trafficking, also appealed to foreign governments to protect the large wave of North African refugees from modern slave traders.

Sending them back to the Arab countries in political upheaval also could send them into the hands of human traffickers, he said, according to news reports from the conference in Rome earlier this month.

Mr. CdeBaca also urged governments to look for potential signs of victims of slave traders.

“You don’t fight trafficking on the borders because people don’t yet know they are trafficking victims,” he said. “It’s only when they get to where they are going that they are enslaved.”

“People should be keeping an eye on where these refugees end up, what kind of jobs they are being put into and how they are treated.”

Mr. CdeBaca is a former federal prosecutor who was the lead trial attorney in one of the largest slavery cases in U.S. history, which involved more than 300 Chinese and Vietnamese workers in a garment factory in American Samoa.


President Obama is inviting Libyan rebels to open an office in Washington in a step that brings the United States closer to giving diplomatic recognition to the provisional government in Benghazi.

Jeffrey Feltman, assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, delivered the message Tuesday on a visit to the rebel capital in Benghazi, where he held talks with members of the National Transitional Council.

He told reporters that Congress might vote soon to freeze some Libyan funds that could then be used to provide humanitarian aid for victims of the civil war against dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

Meanwhile, the rebel announced plans to send an official envoy to France, the first country to recognize the provisional government.

• em>Call Embassy Row at 202-636-3297 or e-mail [email protected]washingtontimes.com. The column is published on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

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