National security wrap  

The beat

Political interference revealed in UK arrest of Tiananmen activist

Evidence has emerged that in 2015 Chinese officials pressured British police to arrest Shao Jiang, a Tiananmen square survivor and activist living in London. The pressure came during a state visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping and officials did not want him to be ‘embarrassed’ by protesters. The Guardian reports that investigators from the Independent Office for Police Conduct found proof that Chinese officials had pressured the police to arrest Shao, but that verdict was reversed after the Metropolitan Police responded to the findings.

Senior Sri Lankans arrested

Sri Lanka’s police chief, Inspector-General Pujith Jayasundara, and former defence secretary Hemasiri Fernando have been arrested for failing to prevent the Easter Sunday bombings in Colombo. Attorney- General Dappula de Livera has said both men could be charged with murder. In a parliamentary inquiry, Jayasundara and Fernando accused President Maithripala Sirisena of ignoring an intelligence warning from India.

Tunisia attacks target security officers

Tunisia’s interior ministry says two suicide bombers struck in the Tunisian capital last Thursday, killing nine people including a policeman. The first attack targeted a security patrol in the centre of Tunis, killing at least one officer and wounding four others. The second targeted a police building which hosts an antiterrorism brigade, injuring four more police officers. They’re the second set of attacks in nine months and took place months before an election and at the height of tourist season.


Australian Border Force raids net foreign workers

Australian Border Force officials in four states have detained more than a dozen foreign workers and job brokers. The ABF raids took place over the last week in Victoria, New South Wales, Western Australia and Queensland. The businesses targeted included farms and a brothel. Those held included people from Malaysia, India and China.

Ancient Egyptian linen seized at US–Canada border

US Customs and Border Protection officials have seized ancient Egyptian mummy linens in a mail truck on the Canadian border. A package containing five jars was destined for a home in the US. It’s not clear how the artefacts arrived in Canada, as it’s illegal to remove them from Egypt. After working with an archaeological organisation, US officials confirmed that the relics dated back to the Ptolemaic Dynasty, which lasted from 305–30BC.

Drunk woman crosses into Finland on an inflatable lifeboat

Russian media reports that a drunk woman crossed Lake Pyhäjärvi into Finland on an inflatable lifeboat. After being reported to Finnish border guards by local residents, the Russian woman was unable to provide documents when she was intercepted. Lake Pyhäjärvi is often used by people crossing the Russia–Finland border illegally.

CT scan

Jemaah Islamiyah leader arrested

The leader of Jemaah Islamiyah, the group behind the 2002 Bali bombings, has been arrested. Para Wijayanto and his wife were found by counterterrorism police in a hotel on the outskirts of Jakarta. He is said to have become JI leader in 2007 and has evaded capture since 2003. Police are also investigating leads that some of the group’s funding has come from oil plantations in Kalimantan and Sumatra.

Costa Rica to deport suspected terror suspects

Costa Rica plans to send home four suspected members of the Islamic State terror group. Two Egyptians and two Iraqis were arrested in Nicaragua on Tuesday near a border crossing with Costa Rica, and handed back to Costa Rica that day. As they crossed into Nicaragua, three of the men were found to match suspects in warnings from the US Department of Homeland Security.

Report warns of IS resurgence

Washington-based think-tank, the Institute for the Study of War, has published a report which argues that IS is able to recover quickly and can reach a more dangerous level than in the past. It says the US is repeating a critical mistake by deprioritising its anti-IS efforts ‘at a pivotal moment when our gains are at their most fragile’.

First responder

Mysterious disease emerges in Bolivia

One doctor has died, and five others are in a serious condition after being infected by an unidentified viral disease in Bolivia. Security measures have been increased to prevent the disease from spreading, with several specialists from Brazil and the US called in to investigate the origins of the outbreak. No emergency has been declared, but a Pan American Health Organization official in Bolivia has urged locals to remain calm.

Anti-pollution exercise held in southern Philippines

The Philippines, Indonesia and Japan are undertaking a trilateral anti-pollution exercise involving 17 ships and 700 personnel. Observers include the US Navy, and the coast guards of China, Sri Lanka and Vietnam. The exercises are designed to help countries develop better response protocols and containment strategies for oil spills. They are held biennially and the last exercise was in Bali in 2017.

Lead detected in California schools’ drinking water

California’s water board has found that one in five schools has detectable levels of lead in its drinking water. This follows a study published in April which found that due to a range of contaminants, drinking tap water in California could increase the risk of cancer. Taken individually, the presence of arsenic and other materials may not be deemed a health risk, but the combination of these contaminants may require a change in the level of risk assessment.