Ex-CIA officer faces arrest over alleged Montenegro coup plot

Posted on Sunday, 12th August 2018 @ 09:33 PM by Text Size A | A | A

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Prosecutors in Montenegro have called for the arrest of a former CIA officer, accusing him of involvement in an alleged Russian-backed coup attempt in 2016.

The former CIA operative, Joseph Assad, has rejected the charges, saying he had been in Montenegro to provide personal security advice to a western political consultant, and calling on the US to reject any extradition request.

“This is a deception campaign against a loyal American who had no role in any crimes or coup in Montenegro,” Assad said in a statement issued on Saturday through his lawyer.

The accusation against Assad is the latest twist in a convoluted year-long trial in the Montenegrin capital, Podgorica, of 14 suspected coup plotters, including two Russians, nine Serbs and three Montenegrins accused of a conspiracy to bring down the country’s pro-Nato government and assassinate its then prime minister Milo Đjukanović.

Prosecutors claim the goal of the putsch, on the day of parliament elections in March 2016, was to stop Montenegro from joining Nato but it was foiled by the security services. Montenegro became the alliance’s 29th member two months later.

The opposition has denounced the claims as a publicity stunt cooked up to save Đjukanović’s party from election defeat. The Kremlin has dismissed them as absurd.

In a statement to the Guardian on Friday, the special prosecutor’s office in Podgorica said that Assad, who has also worked as a private security consultant, was suspected of “creating a criminal organisation” and that a warrant had been issued for his arrest.

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