Two Former Iraqi Ambassadors Defect to Britain
LONDON (AP) _ Two former Iraqi ambassadors have defected to Britain in what opponents of Saddam Hussein called a major blow to his regime. The Iraqis were granted visitor visas.
The Iraqi National Congress, a coalition of Iraqi opposition groups, identified the men today as Hisham Al-Shawi, a former ambassador to Canada, and Hamed Al-Jaburi, a former envoy to Tunisia.
Congress spokeswoman Tamara Daghistani said both men were at their jobs until the past few days, contradicting an Iraqi diplomat in Amman, Jordan, who said they retired last month upon reaching the official retirement age of 63.
Neither man is believed to have been part of Saddam’s inner circle.
British Broadcasting Corp., however, said one of the men is believed to have sensitive information about Iraq’s efforts to rearm after the 1991 Persian Gulf War.
But a spokesman for the International Institute for Strategic Studies doubted they possessed high-grade technical intelligence.
″As they were diplomats, they would be most unlikely to have any information, shall we say, of a technical nature, about weapons or anything like that,″ Col. Andrew Duncan said.
″They probably have not been back to Iraq since the invasion of Kuwait,″ he said. ″They might have some political understanding, but a lot of what they know will probably be two or three years out of date.″