By Ken Richards
BASSETERRE, St Kitts (WINN) -- Former senior minister Dr Timothy Harris is insisting that the St Kitts and Nevis government deliberately sought to embarrass him by withdrawing his diplomatic passport without formally informing him of the decision.
Harris, on his way out of the country on Monday, was told by immigration officials that the passport had been deactivated. The development followed harsh criticism leveled against the government by Harris and other opposition MPs about an alleged passport scandal involving Iranian Alizeera Moghadam. He made the allegation in his capacity as leader of Team Unity – the three-party alliance that has six elected MPs in parliament.
The opposition has been pressing the government clear the air on reports that Moghadam told Canadian authorities that he paid US$1 million for a St Kitts and Nevis diplomatic passport.
In relation to the diplomatic passport held by Harris, who was fired by Prime Minister Denzil Douglas earlier this year, a government statement issued this week said the passport was “rescinded following its non-return to the Ministry as is the standard practice”.
Harris is out of the country at the moment, but WINN FM was able to reach him and put the government position on the matter to him, including the suggestion that he appeared to be giving the impression that he was still a government minister by using the passport designating him as still holding that position.
He dismissed this as “political mischief”.
“The government is clear that the diplomatic passport which they rendered to me basically would say I’m a minister, that is not in dispute,” the Team Unity leader responded.
According to Harris, the government has no evidence that he travelled purporting to be a government minister.
“I don’t see how I would be traveling as a minister when the entire world knows that my services have been terminated,” he said.
“The real reason is that the government sought to embarrass me for having spoken out about the breach of protocol involving Alizeera Moghadam. And the government in its vengeance stooped to the lowest low in attempting without giving me notice, to withdraw the passport,” Harris told WINN FM.
He said standard procedure would have been for the government to write to him indicated that they want the passport withdrawn and that “the government did no such thing”.
According to the ministry of foreign affairs and homeland security, the Team Unity leader used the passport while being aware that his actions were “contrary and inconsistent” with the intent of the relevant legislation and goes against accepted standards in diplomatic relations.
Republished with permission of West Indies News Network