Published: Mon, March 20, 2017
Medicine | By Megan Pierce

American diplomat expelled from New Zealand amid police inquiry

American diplomat expelled from New Zealand amid police inquiry

Police were called to an address in Lower Hutt last Sunday but he had left nursing a broken nose and a black eye, One News reported.

It is surprising the US Embassy refuses to lift diplomatic immunity for a diplomat involved in an incident in Lower Hutt, an global law expert says.

Washington's mission to New Zealand is now without a permanent ambassador since President Donald Trump dismissed most major U.S. diplomats appointed by his predecessor Barack Obama.

A United States diplomat wanted for questioning by police after an alleged assault has left New Zealand.

Foreign Minister Murray McCully says it's "disappointing" that the U.S. government has refused to waive immunity for one of its diplomats.

Police said Saturday they responded to an incident in Lower Hutt near Wellington early on March 12.

He was being investigated by the police for a "serious" crime, but was shielded from the probe by diplomatic immunity.

Whether or not to request a waiver of immunity is a decision made by the secretary of foreign affairs.

White, a technical attache at the USA embassy in Wellington, was understood to have been working with the GCSB spy agency.

The ministry said that for the purposes of its policy, it defines a serious crime as one that carries a prison term of a year or more.

The matter remains under active investigation, and police have also been liaising with MFAT as part of ongoing enquiries.

Mr McCully says he is satisfied with the way the ministry has conducted the process.

He left New Zealand shortly after the incident, but had to return to New Zealand to face trial.

"Any allegations of wrongdoing are always fully investigated".

Where a waiver is refused, MFAT can ask the diplomat's government to withdraw that person.

All diplomatic staff working in New Zealand are immune from prosecution, thanks to the 1961 Vienna Convention.

"We take seriously any suggestion that our staff have fallen short of the high standard of conduct expected of US Government personnel", she said.

The US embassy in Wellington, which is now without a permanent ambassador after former president Barack Obama's appointee was recalled by Donald Trump's administration in January, said it did not comment on the specifics of matters under investigation.

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