Category Archives: Law

Spain probes Goggle tax dodging allegations


And some good news for leakers who exposed other tax-dodging multinationals.

But first the main story, via El País:

Spanish tax officials raided Google’s Madrid offices on Thursday as part of an ongoing investigation, with the internet company saying it was cooperating with local authorities.

A spokeswoman for Google said in a brief statement the company complied with fiscal legislation in Spain just as it did in all countries where it operated, adding that the company was working with authorities to answer all questions.

The search is linked to an investigation in to possible tax evasion. Google’s complex system of tax payments has been under scrutiny by the Spanish tax authorities for several years, which suspects it could be reducing its tax burden in Spain by channeling some income through Ireland.

The Spanish Tax Agency opened an investigation into Google’s tax affairs in 2011. The company’s Spanish affiliate was paying virtually no taxes and had even declared a loss for the previous tax year. The company eventually agreed to pay an extra €1.9 million on its 2007 and 2008 statements and the case was closed.

The European Commission has also been investigating Google’s tax affairs, and the company faces other probes throughout Europe. Google’s Paris offices were raided in May by French tax inspectors, who say the company owes €1.6 billion.

No prison for leakers who exposed tax dodgers

It’s a good news/bad news story, with the good news being that they’ll not serve time, and the bad news being that they were still convicted — although the journalist who received their leaks was no charged, the only unalloyed good news in the story.

From Radio France Internationale:

Two French whistleblowers have been given suspended sentences and a journalist acquitted in the Luxleaks trial over revelations of tax-dodging deals between multinational companies and the Luxembourg authorities. Their lawyers had already declared their intention to appeal, claiming that their clients acted in the public interest.

Antoine Deltour, 31, Raphaël Halet, 40, were found guilty of leaking documents belonging to their former employer Price Waterhouse Coopers but journalist Edouard Perrin, who broke the story in the French TV programme Cash Investigation, was found not guilty.

Deltour was given a 12-month suspended prison sentence and a 1,500-euro fine, while Halet was given a nine-month suspended sentence and a 1,000-euro fine.

The 30,000 pages of confidential documents they passed to the press revealed that multinationals, including Amazon, Apple, Ikea, Pepsi, McDonald’s and BNP-Paribas, negotiated “tax rulings” that allowed them to pay as little as one percent tax if they registered in the Grand Duchy.

The shame of a nation: Noxious CIA false arrest


American intelligence agents captured the wrong man, held him in a ‘black’ prison in Afghanistan, continued to hold him after they realized their error, and eventually dumped him without apology or recompense.

To make matters worse, those responsible for this illegal and egregious miscarriage of justice didn’t get pink slips.

Instead, they were promoted.

From McClatchyDC:

By January of 2004, when German citizen Khaleed al Masri arrived at the Central Intelligence Agency’s secret prison in Afghanistan, agency officials were pretty sure he wasn’t a terrorist. They also knew he didn’t know any terrorists, or much about anything in the world of international terror.

In short, they suspected they’d nabbed the wrong man.

Still, the agency continued to imprison and interrogate him, according to a recently released internal CIA report on Masri’s arrest. The report claims that Masri suffered no physical abuse during his wrongful imprisonment, though it acknowledges that for months he was kept in a “small cell with some clothing, bedding and a bucket for his waste.” Masri says he was tortured, specifically that a medical examination against his will constituted sodomy.

The embarrassing, and horrifying, case of Masri is hardly new. It has been known for a decade as a colossal example of CIA error in the agency’s pursuit of terrorists during the administration of President George W. Bush.

But the recently released internal report makes it clear that the CIA’s failures in the Masri case were even more outrageous than previous accounts have suggested.

>snip<

Even though the agency realized early on that Masri was the wrong man, it couldn’t figure out how to release him without having to acknowledge its mistake. The agency eventually dumped him unceremoniously in Albania and essentially pretended his arrest and detention had never happened.

>snip<

None of the Americans involved in Masri’s detention has been held to account, notes Masri’s attorney, Jamil Dakwar, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Human Rights Program. Indeed, the two men most responsible for the errors were promoted. Meanwhile, Dakwar said, Masri is haunted to this day by the psychological torture inflicted by his detention in the CIA’s secret Afghan holding center and by the stigma of having been snatched in a CIA anti-terror investigation.

More allegations of official injustice in Mexico


Following up on our previous post, yet another report alleges misconduct against Mexican law enforcement officials, this time in the of Chihuahua.

From Frontera NorteSur:

The Chihuahua state government is pursuing legal charges against leading opposition political figures and social movement activists in connection with the June 22 disturbance at state government offices in Chihuahua City.

Humberto Gonzalez Aguirre, state legal representative, filed criminal charges June 25 against National Action Party (PAN) state lawmakers Rogelio Loya Luna and Ana Lilia Gomez Licon; Jaime Garcia Chavez, co-founder of the grassroots Citizen Union; Victor Quintana, former legislator and longtime adviser to small farmer organizations; Oscar Castrejon, a local leader of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s Morena party; and Benjamin Noguiera Garcia.

In comments to El Diario newspaper, Quintana said the accusations were patently false.

“(State authorities) are fabricating crimes like sedition when the evidence shows that at the time of the events we were making a call for peace, asking that no damages be done to the building and no aggressions take place against members of the press,” Quintana was quoted.

Violence broke out at a demonstration against outgoing Governor Cesar Duarte’s administration in front of the state government offices in downtown Chihuahua City last week as a shadowy group of individuals attempted to storm the building, broke windows and damaged other property, and trashed police cars. Although Quintana said he had still not received formal notice of the criminal charges against him, the former congressman added that he, Jaime Garcia, Castrejon and another prominent rural activist leader, Gabino Gomez, had taken preemptive legal action in anticipation of state criminal charges. Quintana said soon-to-be revealed evidence will show the involvement of a group of infiltrators transported from Ciudad Juarez and connected to Antorcha Campesina, an organization affiliated with Duarte’s Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) which has been linked to violent incidents across Mexico going back decades.

The former congressman contended that statements from government quarters soon after the June 22 incident tying the violence to people from the southern state of Oaxaca was meant to feed “a certain racism in Chihuahua.” Many of Oaxaca’s residents are of Indigenous or Afro-Mestizo origin. Quintana and some of the other individuals facing prosecution for June 22 are active supporters of Governor-elect Javier Corral, a longtime PAN politician who has pledged to hold Duarte accountable for alleged corruption and embezzlement and is engaged in a thorny transition with the outgoing administration.

Mexican police often torture and rape women


The main victims of Donald Trump’s proposed wall along the southern U,.S. border would be Mexico’s women, or so one might reasonably infer in light of the findings of a new study from Amnesty International..

The danger they face lies in the hands of those charged with protecting them.

From Agence France-Presse:

Mexico’s police and armed forces routinely torture and mistreat women, sometimes using sexual violence during arrest and interrogation, Amnesty International wrote in a damning report released on Tuesday.

The rights group interviewed 100 women who reported violence during arrest, all of whom described having been the victim of some form of sexual harassment or psychological abuse. Seven in ten of the women reported sexual violence during arrest or in the hours that followed.

The types of mistreatment the women were subjected to included blows to the stomach and head, threats of rape directed either at them or their families, near-asphyxiation, electric shocks to the genitals, groping and rape.

“Police appear to be using them as easy targets for arrest to boost figures and show society that the government’s security efforts are yielding results,” said an Amnesty International statement.

“The women subjected to such violence are mostly young and from low income backgrounds. The multiple and intersecting discrimination these women face because of their gender, age and socio-economic situation increases their risk of being arbitrarily arrested and tortured or ill-treated,” the statement said.

Another setback for Brazil’s coup government


Yet another of the leaders of the legal coup against now-sidelined President Dilma Rousseff has landed in hot water.

This time it’s because of his homophobic embrace of the man whose solider tortured Rousseff.

From teleSUR English:

Brazil’s Congress opened an ethics investigation on Tuesday into Jair Bolsonaro, an outspoken lawmaker whose views on torture, rape and homosexuality are sparking concern that the country’s political crisis may foster an authoritarian political revival.

The ethics committee of Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of Congress, will try to determine if Bolsonaro, a former Brazilian Army paratrooper, broke parliamentary decorum when he prefaced his vote in April to impeach President Dilma Rousseff with a speech praising Army Colonel Carlos Ustra.

Courts have found Ustra, a notorious Army intelligence officer during the 1964-1985 military regime, responsible for torture. Rousseff, a former left-wing insurgent, was tortured by Ustra’s Army intelligence unit.

For his congressional opponents, Bolsonaro’s backing of Ustra represents support of torture.

During the vote, the only openly gay lawmaker in Brazil’s Congress Jean Wyllys (Party of Socialism and Liberty) spit in Bolsonaro’s face after saying, “:In the name of the Indigenous people, of the Black people exterminated in the suburbs, of culture workers, of homeless people, of landless workers, I am voting ‘No to the coup, you crooks.’”

Sign of the times: Yes, it really is a street sign


BLOG Sign

And it’s painted on streets in Basel, Switzerland, the result of pressure on police [in German] to regulate the activities of the 30 to 50 of the city’s prostitutes who chose to solicit customers on the streets rather than the approach taken by the 650 or so other sex workers who either solicit in bars or through advertisements posted in bars.

That dotted line represents the limits beyond which they will be arrested and charged or soliciting boulevardiers out for a good time.

Police report that the overwhelming majority of sex workers are Eastern Europeans, leading police to adopt an icon rather than a written notice.

Xenophobia runs amok in post-Brexit Britain


And the frankly xenophobic character of pro-Brexit propaganda has played a leading role in the epidemic of racial and religious violence sweeping Old Blighty:

BLOG UKIP Poster

We begin with a roundup from Deutsche Welle:

According to initial police figures, there has been a sharp spike in hate crimes since last week’s referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU: an increase of 57 percent in reported incidents between Thursday and Sunday, compared with the same days four weeks earlier. In addition to the incidents reported to police, accounts of verbal abuse have proliferated on social media. “I suddenly feel a lot further away from home,” German national Karoline Weber, who works in London, told DW.

While much of the aggression has been targeted at EU nationals, non-white Britons have also been affected. BBC journalist Sima Kotecha was called a “Paki” while reporting on the responses to the Brexit vote in her home town of Basingstoke. Channel 4 News correspondent Ciaran Jenkins heard three people shout “send them home” in the space of five minutes as he reported on the referendum in Barnsley in northern England.

“The attacks are mostly on eastern European migrants – but not all,” says Liz Fekete, director of the Institute for Race Relations. “What we’re observing is Muslim women are a prime target and a lot of children as well. A lot of damage has been done to social and community cohesion. There’s a hell of a lot of work to be done to repair that.”

BLOG Brexit billboard
Next up, two stories from U.S. Uncut, the first reporting on on attack targeting Muslims:

Kashmir Meat & Poultry, a halal butcher shop owned and operated by a Muslim man, was attacked with a “petrol bomb” this Monday evening in the West Midlands in England.

Bashir Hussain, who was managing the store at the time of the attack, luckily escaped with only minor bruising from being struck by the weapon itself, but most of the store itself was destroyed by the flames.

The owner, Jamal Hussain, was dismayed by the attack and still seemed in shock when he spoke with reporters.

BLOG Brexit German

Next, even Western Europeans are begin singled out by bitter xenophobes:

British radio host James O’Brien and his guest Simon Woolley were stopped in their tracks this morning when an elderly German woman named Karen called in hysterical tears after facing an onslaught of xenophobic attacks following the Brexit vote last week.

“I came from Germany in 1973,” she said, her speech punctuated by sobs throughout the entire conversation. “My husband, my late husband, was British. I’ve lived here for 43 years, and I’m so scared now.”

Despite having lived in the country for over four decades, Karen has been the victim of vandalization and hate speech so consistently that she has now locked herself in her house.

“I’ve gotten dog turds  thrown at my door on Friday… I’ve got nobody in Germany… I haven’t been out of the house for three days because I don’t know what to do,” she sobbed.

Finally, from Al Jazeera, a call for action from the United Nations:

The United Nations raised alarm as a series of racist incidents against minorities and foreigners were reported in the United Kingdom, following the country’s decision to leave the European Union.

Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said on Tuesday that “racism and xenophobia are unacceptable in any circumstances” around the world.

“I urge the UK authorities to act to stop these xenophobic attacks and to ensure that all those suspected of racist and anti-foreigner attacks and abuses are prosecuted,” Hussein said.

“All of us must refuse to tolerate discriminatory acts in our daily lives – to ensure that there is nothing ‘everyday’ about discrimination.”

Violence, intimidation and calls of “Go home” directed at minorities – from Europeans in England to non-white Britons – have surged since the referendum last Friday.