Biden 'actively engaged' in case of British teenager killed by suspected CIA agent

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said President Joe Biden is “actively engaged” in the case of a teenage motorcyclist who was killed in a collision with a suspected CIA agent driving on the wrong side of the road, saying the two are "working together."

Biden has his “own personal reasons for feeling very deeply about the issue,” Johnson said Friday in a BBC interview, alluding to the death of the president's first wife, Neilia, and daughter Naomi, in a car crash in 1972. Biden's two sons were also injured in that crash.

American Anne Sacoolas was charged in the United Kingdom with killing Harry Dunn, but she fled the country after the crash, claiming diplomatic immunity. She was driving outside of a Royal Air Force base in Croughton, England, from which U.S. intelligence agencies are known to operate and where her husband was said to be employed. The charge, causing death by dangerous driving, carries a penalty of up to 14 years in prison.

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Dunn's family has campaigned for the American to return to England to face trial. On Friday, his mother told the BBC that she hoped Biden’s “tragic loss” would inform his response.

“This rightly shows just how important this issue is, and we are very grateful to the prime minister and his team for doing so,” said a spokesman for the family, Radd Seiger.

The Trump administration rejected a British extradition request for Sacoolas following the crash, a decision that the Biden White House later said it deemed final.

Ahead of the G-7 summit, Johnson raised the case with Biden and called for justice for the family, Downing Street told reporters Thursday. Dunn's family commended Johnson for taking “the first available opportunity” to broach the issue, Seiger said.

The case has proven to be a diplomatic minefield.

“This is not something that either government can control very easily because there are legal processes that are still going on,” Johnson said of the case, which drew renewed attention in February when an attorney for Sacoolas said she was working for U.S. intelligence.

According to Sacoolas’s lawyer, “Mr. and Mrs. Sacoolas were employed by an intelligence agency of the United States, and that’s why she left.”

The attorney could not “completely candidly” explain Sacoolas's departure, according to an audio link of the case reported by the Press Association. “I know the answer, but I cannot disclose it,” he said.

At the time of the accident, Sacoolas was said to be "the wife of a U.S. diplomat." She gave no indication that she intended to leave the country and initially cooperated with the police, according to reports.

According to a 1995 agreement, U.S. staff posted to the Croughton base are barred from claiming diplomatic immunity for actions outside of their work, but this rule did not apply to dependents, according to remarks by British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab in 2019.

Raab said last year that the British government “would have acted differently if this had been a U.K. diplomat serving in the U.S.” and voiced his "disappointment" in a meeting with former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo after the U.S. denied the extradition request.

At the time of the crash, a YouGov survey found that 84% of U.K. respondents supported extraditing Sacoolas to the U.K., while two-thirds of Americans did, or 63%. Last year, 64% of Americans supported extradition, which just 9% opposed.

YouGov polled 2,584 Americans and 1,611 U.K. adults in 2019 and 1,352 U.S. adults in 2020.

In 2019, former President Donald Trump drew criticism after meeting with Dunn's family at the White House and attempting to engineer a surprise meeting with Sacoolas, who he said was waiting "in the next room" and hoped to meet them. Dunn's parents refused.

“It took your breath away when he mentioned it the first time,” Dunn’s father said after the event.

Seiger, the family's spokesman, said Trump had intended to pay them compensation, stating that former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was "standing by ready to write a check."

"It was almost as if he let it slip out," Seiger told the Press Association. "When he said: 'We've got the driver [Sacoolas] here,' he basically meant we're all going to have a big hug and a kiss and I'll get my treasury guy to write a check. That's how it was. On the day, it just didn't register with me, but the more I think about those words, the more shocking it is."

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Trump, who called the incident a "terrible accident," drew criticism after he said that driving on the wrong side of the road “happens” when people "go to Europe and the roads are opposite.”

The Biden White House did not respond to a request for comment and has not provided a readout of the president's discussion with Johnson.

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Tags: News, White House, Biden Administration, Joe Biden, CIA, United Kingdom, Boris Johnson, Foreign Policy, Crime, Law

Original Author: Katherine Doyle

Original Location: Biden 'actively engaged' in case of British teenager killed by suspected CIA agent

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