Jen Psaki
Spokesperson
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
July 11, 2013


Index for Today's Briefing
  • DEPARTMENT
    • Secretary Kerry's Schedule
  • EGYPT
    • U.S. Assistance to Egypt
    • U.S. Support for Continued Sustainable Path to Democracy in Egypt
    • U.S. Assistance under Review
    • U.S. in Touch with a Range of Egyptian Officials
  • SYRIA
    • Chemical Weapons
  • RUSSIA
    • Condemnation of Posthumous Magnitsky Verdict
    • Snowden
  • SYRIA
    • Al-Nusrah
  • BANGLADESH
    • U.S. Support for Coordination on Improving Worker Safety and Labor Rights
  • DEPARTMENT
    • Use of U.S. Technology by Repressive Regimes
  • IRAQ
    • Concerns about Incidents of Violence
  • BAHRAIN
    • Human Rights


TRANSCRIPT:

The video is also available with closed captioning on YouTube.

1:25 p.m. EDT

MS. PSAKI: Happy Thursday. So let’s start with what’s on all of your minds.

QUESTION: Well, can we do the same thing that we did yesterday?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: Do you have any updates on the Secretary’s schedule?

MS. PSAKI: I do not. He is in Boston now, but I do not have any updates on his schedule.

QUESTION: All right. So on to Egypt. Are you able today to say anything at all about these F-16s that are going to Egypt?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have much for you on that, Matt, but I can say that given the events of last week, of course, the President has directed relevant departments and agency to – agencies to review our assistance to the Government of Egypt. The Department of State is, of course, abiding by that, as is the Department of Defense. And beyond that, I would point you to my friends over at the Department of Defense.

QUESTION: Well, then more generally though, your colleague at the White House just said that it was still the Administration’s position, as it was earlier this week and last week as well, that it would be a mistake and not in U.S. national security interests to precipitously halt or suspend --

MS. PSAKI: That is --

QUESTION: -- assistance going to --

MS. PSAKI: That is correct. And nothing has changed. But obviously, we’re reviewing all forms of assistance.

QUESTION: Okay. But can we take that to mean that things that had been previously agreed on to send, to transfer to the Egyptians, are going ahead?

MS. PSAKI: Well, again, obviously, it hasn’t happened, to my knowledge, so --

QUESTION: Yeah. But stuff that was in the pipeline is going to continue to flow to Egypt? That’s what that means that precipitously --

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’re --

QUESTION: -- you don’t want to precipitously end it? Is that – am I correct?

MS. PSAKI: We’re still paying our bills, of course, and all of the programs are still moving forward.

QUESTION: They are. Okay.

MS. PSAKI: But again, I’m not going to get ahead of what the end result of any review will be.

QUESTION: Can you – so am I correct in thinking that it is – that it’s the Administration’s position that it’s all right, if it believes it’s in U.S. national security interest, to continue to send weapons and assistance to Egypt, but yet the Administration would disagree that Russia, in its national interests, shouldn’t – or the Administration would oppose Russia acting in its national interests sending previously agreed-on equipment, materiel, to Syria?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I certainly wouldn’t link the two, Matt.

QUESTION: No, I’m not trying to link the two.

MS. PSAKI: I think they’re entirely different circumstances.

QUESTION: But that is correct? I’m correct, though, in thinking that it’s okay – that you believe it’s okay for you to continue – to send previously agreed-on materiel to Egypt, but at the same time you also disagree that it’s okay for Russia in its national interest to send previously agreed-on stuff to Syria? I just want to make sure I have that distinction correct.

MS. PSAKI: You are familiar with our positions, but I would caution anyone to compare the circumstances --

QUESTION: I’m not trying to compare --

MS. PSAKI: You’re putting them in the same sentence – to what is happening in Syria and the actions of the Assad regime.

QUESTION: You would agree that not all countries have the same national security interests, correct?

MS. PSAKI: Every country --

QUESTION: Right, okay.

MS. PSAKI: -- has different interests, of course.

QUESTION: But – and in this case, it’s okay for you because you say so that it’s in your national interest to send the stuff to Egypt, but it is not okay when they say it’s in their national interest to continue to supply the Syrians. I just want to make sure.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I’m not sure I’ve seen the latest explanation from Russia on their reasons for continuing to provide aid and assistance to the Syrian regime. You’re familiar with our position as well as our position on Egypt.

QUESTION: Can we go to – well, continuing with Egypt --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: The comment that you made at yesterday’s briefing, “It wasn’t a democratic rule,” referring to President Morsy’s time in office, has been welcomed by the Egyptian interim government. The foreign ministry spokesman said that it – the comments reflect understanding and realization about the political developments that Egypt is witnessing in recent days, as embodying the will of millions of Egyptians who took to the streets. Is that a fair reading of what you meant?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Arshad, what I meant was that it is about the will of the Egyptian people, it is about their path and their choices and what kind of country the Egyptians want to live in. And we have all seen and talked a great deal about the 22 million people who spoke out and had their voices heard. It is not for the United States to make an evaluation, but certainly we all saw the events and certainly wouldn’t ignore them.

QUESTION: But is it still your view that you don’t regard President Morsy’s rule as having been democratic?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Arshad, I was referring to all of the voices that have been – we have heard coming – the millions, I should say – coming from Egypt and how strongly they have voiced their views about his rule. But beyond that is up for the Egyptian people to determine.

QUESTION: But I mean, one more on this, please.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm, go ahead.

QUESTION: But you said that it was – his rule wasn’t democratic, and I wonder what you were thinking of when you said that, since he was, of course, democratically elected. Were you thinking perhaps of his effort late last year to give much greater decision-making authority to the presidency in the absence of a parliament? Was that undemocratic, or were you thinking of other things?

MS. PSAKI: Well, you’re familiar because you’ve certainly covered this building for some time, when we have voiced concerns when warranted, even as recently as the NGO cases. But – and of course, we would stand by those. And I think I said, as long ago – which seems long ago – as last week that it’s not just about what happens at the ballot box, it’s what happens beyond that. But again, this is all for the Egyptian people to evaluate, all for them to make choices about the path moving forward.

QUESTION: Jen, can I --

QUESTION: And then last one for me --

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: -- if I may, on this. A spokesman for the brotherhood said that the remarks showed American hypocrisy and he added, “There is no way the Egyptian army would have gone through with this coup if it would not have been sanctioned by the U.S.” Can you comment directly on his claim that the United States is being hypocritical and his suggestion that the United States had sanctioned a coup in advance?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Arshad, I think we’ve been very clear, ad nauseum perhaps, from here that we have not taken a side; we will not take a side. What we would like to see is a continued path to a sustainable, democratic process in Egypt. We know that will take time, and we’re here to support the move toward that. And that’s what we’ve called for, but I would refute those claims.

QUESTION: Can I go back to the F-16s?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: I mean, I wasn’t clear because you kind of mixed it up a little. Are these – these sales were already – this kind of purchase and sale was already in train before this all happened. So does that mean that it is going through?

MS. PSAKI: I just don’t have anything more for you. All of the assistance that is being provided and in train from State, from other agencies, the President’s asked for a review. But I would --

QUESTION: Does that include the F-16s?

MS. PSAKI: I would point you to the Department of Defense for what their review includes.

QUESTION: Well, no. I mean, isn’t – wouldn’t this come under kind of sales that were approve by the State Department, though?

MS. PSAKI: Well, these are – the Department of Defense is the point on this.

QUESTION: The Department of Defense is the one that’s helping supply them, but certainly foreign military sales are – the State Department is involved in that.

MS. PSAKI: I just don’t have anything more on this specific --

QUESTION: Well, do you think it’s a good idea for these – for a sale of F-16s to go through right now while you’re making a determination whether there’s a coup and everyone seems to think there is other than the United States? And even Democrats on the Hill are questioning this sale right now.

MS. PSAKI: Well, Elise, I think we’ve said a couple of times, and I know my colleague Jay Carney has also said, that obviously, we’re taking a review, a review is underway, we’re going to take the time to do that. In the meantime, obviously, we’re continuing to provide assistance and don’t see the benefit in changing that.

QUESTION: But I mean, are – just to kind of follow up on Matt’s question --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- are sales or purchases and deals that were already in train going to go through regardless of your review?

MS. PSAKI: It’s all being reviewed. I just don’t have anything more on this specific case.

QUESTION: Could you remind us of the U.S. position on the governance of Egypt before July 3rd? Did you consider it to be democratic or undemocratic at the time?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not – I think we’ve spoken quite a bit about this, Said, so I’m not sure I have anything more to add for you.

QUESTION: Yeah, but could you remind us of your position, whether it was democratic or was not democratic? Because today, the statement that Arshad was alluding to says that you agree with them that the Morsy government was not democratic.

MS. PSAKI: I think I just addressed Arshad’s question.

QUESTION: I understand, but could you remind us of what was your position before, before the military coup?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything more.

QUESTION: But just to – you’re saying in response --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- your comment yesterday was that it was not a democratic rule, was not – that wasn’t a U.S. assessment. That was your understanding of what these 22 million people in Egypt who were protesting the government, that was their assessment. Is that what you’re saying?

MS. PSAKI: That’s correct. But we’ve long also said --

QUESTION: No, no, I understand, but --

MS. PSAKI: -- and this is consistent with what I said last week --

QUESTION: But you said you weren’t making any assessment, so I just wanted to make sure that you’re – when you said that, you were referring to the complaints of the people who were opposed to Morsy, not --

MS. PSAKI: Yes, and --

QUESTION: It wasn’t a U.S. assessment that it was undemocratic?

MS. PSAKI: Yes, but we have also expressed concerns when warranted about some steps that have been taken. And it’s clear from the voices of the Egyptian people that there have been concerns about the rule post the democratic election. So that’s what I’m referring to.

QUESTION: Okay. Well, does that mean that the Administration has decided that it should agree with or repeat the assessments of minorities of populations when it comes to making decisions about U.S. foreign – U.S. national security interests?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t think I’m making a sweeping assessment here.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. PSAKI: Every case is different.

QUESTION: Just in this case?

MS. PSAKI: No, Matt. There’s 22 million people, as we’ve talked about quite a bit in here, who have voiced their concern.

QUESTION: Right, right, I understand.

MS. PSAKI: That certainly is something that everybody has taken note of. We have called for an inclusive process moving forward, including all parties. That’s where our focus is now.

QUESTION: On that point, on the inclusive process --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- now, why can’t you make a statement that is clear on this point saying that the Muslim Brotherhood can be part of any future political process, including --

MS. PSAKI: I think we --

QUESTION: -- including the deposed President Mohamed Morsy? I mean, mention his name.

MS. PSAKI: Well, Said, I’m sorry if there’s been any confusion. But certainly, all parties, including the Muslim Brotherhood, would be important as part of the inclusive process, and --

QUESTION: And that would include Mohamed Morsy himself?

MS. PSAKI: That is up for the Egyptian people to decide if they would like --

QUESTION: But you wouldn’t see any problem in Mohamed Morsy himself running for reelection?

MS. PSAKI: It’s not for us to decide.

QUESTION: I understand, but you would --

MS. PSAKI: It’s for the Egyptian people to decide.

QUESTION: That’s true. It is up to the Egyptian people. But you don’t see any problem in someone like Morsy running again for president?

MS. PSAKI: If the Egyptian people support it, it’s their decision to make.

QUESTION: Last Wednesday --

QUESTION: But in Syria, Assad’s no good? The Syrian people, if they voted for Assad, they couldn’t have him because he’s lost his legitimacy, right?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think Mr. Assad has killed – has been at the helm of killing tens of thousands of people.

QUESTION: I understand the differences, but I just – but when you go around and say constantly that it’s not about personalities and that it’s up for the people of the country to decide. But in one case, you have made a decision that one person is not fit to lead. Just pointing that out.

MS. PSAKI: I think we’ve talked quite a bit about Syria in here, and we may do more today.

QUESTION: Yes.

QUESTION: Last Wednesday, I asked about formal definition of the Administration of a military coup, and you said you’re going to – you’re happy to provide it to us. Do you have any updates on that?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any.

QUESTION: You don’t?

MS. PSAKI: We’ve talked about it quite a bit in here, so I would point you to my comments throughout the course of the week.

QUESTION: And the second question --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- are you going to recognize the legitimacy of the new Egyptian government once it’s formed?

MS. PSAKI: Well, as we’ve talked about a bit in here as well, this is a part of the process and we’re cautiously optimistic about the steps taken to put in place an interim government. But obviously, a big important factor here is what steps are taken from here.

And let me just add one thing I would just like to add, and that is that the arrests we’ve seen, of course, over the past several days targeting specific groups are not in line with the national reconciliation that the interim government and military say they are pursuing. If politicized arrests and detentions continue, it is hard to see how Egypt will move beyond this crisis. That further emphasizes the point I was making about how all sides – an inclusive process would include all sides.

QUESTION: Sorry if I missed anything --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- but in your first answer, did you say that you actually offered that definition? And I kind of missed it because I wasn’t here.

MS. PSAKI: We’ve talked quite a bit in here about this entire process. I’d point you to comments I’ve made over the last several days.

QUESTION: No, no, I’m asking, did you provide a definition?

MS. PSAKI: I think I don’t have anything more for you.

QUESTION: Just on your – when you talked --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- about the arbitrary arrest just now, that’s of the Muslim Brotherhood people?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Okay. And it’s hard for the U.S. to see that if these continue, that this is going --

MS. PSAKI: How it can be an inclusive process moving forward.

QUESTION: And would that affect your review of whether this was a coup or not?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think I’ve said a couple of times in here that we’re looking at what happened last week and how things are certainly handled moving forward. Those are all factors in our decision making around our policy as it relates to Egypt.

QUESTION: Okay. But not on the coup designation?

MS. PSAKI: Well, part of what --

QUESTION: I understand. But it’s just – it’s unclear to me how it is that events post the removal of Morsy have any effect on what that was, what the removal was. So I just want to – you’re saying that it’s part of the broader review of aid, not just on this coup designation –

MS. PSAKI: Sure, of course, about our policy with Egypt. But it’s also about efforts by the Egyptian authorities to forge an inclusive and democratic way forward, and that’s certainly part of what we’re looking at as well as the legal requirements under the law.

QUESTION: Right.

QUESTION: Jennifer?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Did you see reports about the situation in northern Sinai, like some militants revenging from --

MS. PSAKI: The violence? You’re --

QUESTION: They killed a Coptic merchant and --

MS. PSAKI: We did. I did see that. Let me just take the opportunity just to say that we condemn the violence, as we have many times in Egypt, including the horrific sectarian violence in the Sinai that has claimed the lives of two Coptic Christians, and in Luxor, where four Copts were killed and many Coptic-owned homes were reportedly destroyed. Let me also be clear that we condemn the recent attack that deliberately targeted security forces in the Sinai.

QUESTION: Just back on the arrest --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- your comment on the arrest. Was that – was your – has your concern about this been made directly to the Egyptians?

MS. PSAKI: Yes.

QUESTION: Through?

MS. PSAKI: Through our conversations with the military and others, mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Okay. So this is part of the – Secretary Hagel’s taking the lead on – this is something that he relayed to the Egyptians about the arrest, or is this something that --

MS. PSAKI: I can’t read out for you Secretary Hagel’s calls. I can tell you that Secretary Kerry has been – probably made about three dozen calls over the past week about this issue.

QUESTION: On the --

QUESTION: Did he make this point? Did he make this point on the arrest, Secretary Kerry, in his conversations?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not clear, Arshad. And it may have been many who have made this point, but who specifically it came through.

QUESTION: Well, recognizing you can’t speak for Secretary Hagel or the Pentagon, do you --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- who in this building? Like, is it Anne Patterson? Who delivered this message to whom? Was it delivered to the military? Was it delivered to the interim government, or – and who did it?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’ve been in – obviously, this message has been conveyed to those who have been responsible for the arrests, so that has been conveyed. In terms of who it’s coming from, I don’t have any specifics on that, but clearly, high-level officials from the U.S. Government.

QUESTION: I don’t have any more on Egypt. I’d like the chance to say that (inaudible).

QUESTION: I have one.

MS. PSAKI: Okay. Go ahead, Nicole.

QUESTION: I wanted to – when you say these concerns would be conveyed to those who have made the arrests, you mean the military?

MS. PSAKI: Correct. Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Okay. Do you have any update on whether any U.S. official has been in touch with Morsy or has any news about his whereabouts or well-being?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t.

QUESTION: You don’t have an update or you – that has not --

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have an update. I don’t have an update.

QUESTION: Okay. And a legal question.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: So who does the U.S. recognize now as the representative in Egypt?

MS. PSAKI: Well, clearly the interim government is in the process of being created. As you’ve seen from calls that --

QUESTION: Right. Does that mean you recognize them?

MS. PSAKI: It’s not about recognizing. Obviously, Secretary Kerry and Secretary Hagel and Susan Rice have all been in touch with a range of officials, as you know, and that’s what we’re working through. Obviously, this is a fluid process and we’re taking it day by day.

QUESTION: Okay. If you could just – I just want some clarity on the legal side of this, like --

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: -- who, and how that determination was made. If you could take that question, I’d be grateful.

MS. PSAKI: The specific legal – and let me just make sure I understand – specific legal – who --

QUESTION: Who does the Administration see, or what group does the Administration see as the legal representative?

MS. PSAKI: Okay. Let me see if there’s a legal answer for that. Right now, obviously, it’s a very complex situation, as we all know.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: I think I could help you on this issue.

MS. PSAKI: Oh, all right.

QUESTION: If the President wanted to speak to someone in Egypt, does he pick up the phone and call Adly Mansour, who is the interim president?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I’m not going to read out calls that the President has made. The White House will do that. But the point I was trying to make, which is getting to your point, is just that Secretary Kerry and Secretary Hagel and Susan Rice, they’ve all been in touch with a range of officials, as you’ve seen. So if there’s a legal specific definition, I’m happy to check on that, but obviously this is a very complex situation on the ground.

QUESTION: Then I guess I should rephrase and say: Who do they see as the head of state?

MS. PSAKI: Well, again, it’s a complex situation. They’re in touch with a range of officials. If there’s a legal definition to provide for all of you, I will – happy to check with our legal team on it.

QUESTION: But is Mr. Adly Monsour the head of state now, from your point of view?

MS. PSAKI: Again, we --

QUESTION: You don’t know?

MS. PSAKI: We know he’s the interim president. In terms of the exact definition, I just don’t want to define things.

QUESTION: But he is the president. Do you think he is the president?

MS. PSAKI: The interim. We know what his title is; it’s in the media every day. And obviously, officials are here in touch with a range of officials there.

Do we have any more on Egypt?

QUESTION: Yes.

MS. PSAKI: Okay. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Jen, you mentioned that there is arrest of the leaders of the Muslim Brothers, and the same time that you asked who is in charge in Egypt to be inclusive of these people --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- and in the same time, two days ago you said that Embassy or others have some contacts with the leaders of Muslim Brothers. I mean, I’m trying to connect the dots and understand exactly. Are still contacts going on? I mean, like, it’s not an – I mean, I’m not talking about the position; I am talking about the reality.

MS. PSAKI: Yes.

QUESTION: Contacts are going on and – or it’s, like, interrupted because of these arrests, or --

MS. PSAKI: We --

QUESTION: And, I mean, because it’s – as much as I know, at least 10 or 15 of those leadership, the main people, are either hiding or are under arrest.

MS. PSAKI: Well, that’s exactly why I made the point I made. But I can tell you that we remain in contact with individuals across Egypt’s political spectrum. This includes the interim government, military, and members of the Muslim Brotherhood. In all these conversations, we urge them to engage in the political process and to support the process to full civilian governance through elections. And that is a process we’re watching closely.

QUESTION: Syria?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: So you all have seen today that the UN is going to send some chemical weapons people to Damascus? Do you have any comment on that?

MS. PSAKI: Yes, we have seen that, Matt, certainly. We strongly agree with the UN that access for its investigating team should proceed without further delay and without any conditions. For the last five months, the Syrian regime has denied the UN the unfettered access it has requested to conduct a credible investigation. If the Syrian Government is truly impartial, and – it would not require these lengthy waits and allow them in. We, of course, support these efforts. We – this is – these are just conversations, as we understand it. And clearly, the important step here is allowing them unfettered access.

QUESTION: All right. The Russians have taken issue with this comment that you made yesterday, saying that they are – they were blocking it. Are you willing to concede that you might have made an error in saying that they were blocking it in the Security Council?

MS. PSAKI: They were blocking a resolution with language that was similar to what was agreed on at the G-8, which they were certainly a part of. Beyond that debate, as we know, they’ve blocked UN Security Council resolutions in the past. And the larger issue here is why everybody wouldn’t support unfettered access for the UN team to investigate chemical weapons use in Syria.

QUESTION: Okay. So you’re putting on the boxing gloves and ready to take on the Russian Ambassador to the UN next time you see him.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I was reiterating what I was speaking to, which was a Security Council resolution calling for Syria to provide the UN with access into Syria to investigate any and all credible allegations.

QUESTION: Okay. And then just one thing. And so you said in your first response that the delay is troubling, the fact that they wouldn’t let them in --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- that they sort of delayed and postponed. Are you – is there a concern at all that they might have in this – used this delay to try to scrub things down?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any information to tell you that.

QUESTION: Well, is there a concern that that might be one of the – that that might be a reason that they were not welcoming at the beginning, or for the last year?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I just can’t get into their heads, but it seems like if there’s nothing --

QUESTION: I’m not asking what’s in their heads, but just --

MS. PSAKI: If there’s nothing to hide, there’s no reason for them to delay.

QUESTION: Okay. But the – but a delay – there is a – is there – or maybe there’s not a concern; I just want to know. Is there a concern that they might have used the delay to try and hide something that happened?

MS. PSAKI: I just don’t want to speculate on what the reasons are.

QUESTION: Are you welcoming the decision by the Syrian Government to let the UN – to give the UN access?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I’m not aware of them giving unfettered access to investigate all of the potential uses of chemical weapons. If that were the case, we certainly would, but that’s not the case as of now.

QUESTION: Jen, have you had an opportunity to review the reports for the Russians about the allegations of rebel use of sarin gas?

MS. PSAKI: Not as of yet. Not as of yet.

QUESTION: But you still contend that it is the U.S. Administration’s belief that the opposition has no access to such weapons?

MS. PSAKI: Has not used, right.

QUESTION: But would you say that --

QUESTION: Has not used?

MS. PSAKI: Right.

QUESTION: Have they – do they have access to?

MS. PSAKI: Not that I’m aware of, but that they have not used. We don’t have any credible or corroborated evidence of that.

QUESTION: So where in that inbox, that to-do list, is the Russian report? Is it, like, at the bottom, or below the bottom?

MS. PSAKI: Matt, I don’t have a ranking of my inbox for you just today. Maybe tomorrow.

QUESTION: All right.

QUESTION: Change subject?

QUESTION: And then on – but stay on Russia?

QUESTION: Let me do one. It is Russia, yes.

MS. PSAKI: One Syria or – okay.

QUESTION: Well, this is Russia.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: Do you have any comment on the Magnitsky case?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: As I’m sure you saw, he was convicted posthumously today.

MS. PSAKI: I do. We are disappointed by the unprecedented posthumous criminal conviction against Sergei Magnitsky. The trial was a discredit to the efforts of those who continue to seek justice in his case. Despite widely publicized credible evidence of criminal conduct resulting in Magnitsky’s death, the authorities have failed to prosecute those responsible. We continue to call for full accountability for all those responsible for Magnitsky’s wrongful death and will continue to support the efforts of those in Russia who seek to hold those individuals accountable.

QUESTION: But this conviction doesn’t have anything – this wasn’t a trial of the people that might have been responsible for killing --

MS. PSAKI: It was not. That’s the point. So --

QUESTION: So you think that this is like a sideshow and that it should --

MS. PSAKI: That they are posthumously convicting someone when there are others at large. Yes.

QUESTION: Okay. And you at the same time are still calling on the Russians to deport Mr. Snowden, yes?

MS. PSAKI: We would – I think our position on Mr. Snowden is very well publicized.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: Any idea of where he might be?

MS. PSAKI: I do not have any new information for you.

QUESTION: So – but he was in a Moscow airport, though?

MS. PSAKI: As far as we know.

QUESTION: Can we go back to Syria?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: Okay. On Syria, are you aware of statements made by Jabhat al-Nusrah that they basically control the regions where oil is being produced? They have like a structure much like a ministry that is running the oil and sending it out and getting money for it. Basically they claim that members of the FSA are joining them by droves. Do you have a comment on that?

MS. PSAKI: I just haven’t seen those, Said, so we’ll have to take a closer look at them for you and see what they say.

QUESTION: Are you concerned that Jabhat al-Nusrah may be becoming the strongest among the trained rebel groups?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think you’re familiar with the – the steps, I should say, that we’ve taken both to designate al-Nusrah, but also to ensure that weapons are going – or not that – any aid is going into the hands of moderate opposition. But beyond that, I’m not going to give you a ranking.

QUESTION: Okay. Finally, they claim that actually your designation of them as a terrorist organization has been good for them because it attracted all the revolutionary Islamist elements among the ranks.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I haven’t seen those comments but we stand by the steps we’ve taken.

Scott?

QUESTION: Bangladesh?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: U.S. and Canadian retailers have agreed on a safety plan; unlike the European plan, the U.S. and Canadian plan is not legally binding. So why is that better for Bangladeshi workers?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’re still reviewing. As you know, this agreement is between private sector companies. We’re still reviewing that agreement. Broadly speaking, the United States strongly supports coordination between all parties, including buyers, manufacturers, government, civil society, and labor actors, to improve worker safety and labor rights in Bangladesh. We’ve also been very focused on this over the past couple of months and long before in terms of working with all parties to take steps to improve conditions on the ground.

QUESTION: The U.S. retailer Walmart was opposed to the European plan because it had unlimited liability. Is that a concern of the U.S. Government? Is that why you felt it was better for U.S. and Canadian retailers to have a separate deal?

MS. PSAKI: Again, it’s a deal done by private sector retailers. We’re just taking a closer look at it. And in terms of the legality, I’m happy to talk with our folks and see if we have more on that to add for you.

QUESTION: Iraq.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MS. PSAKI: Oh, go ahead.

QUESTION: A few weeks ago, Syrian dissidents were raising the issue that web-monitoring devices made in the United States --

MS. PSAKI: Syrian?

QUESTION: Syrian dissidents. And as a matter of fact, it came out two days or three days ago in Washington Post, the story about this that not just Syrian dissidents – I mean, it is – this device is made in California, are used by Iran and Sudan and probably Saudi Arabia and Bahrain to monitor the web, and accordingly trace people and arrest them or harass them. Do you have anything to say about this?

MS. PSAKI: Well, the State Department is closely following reports regarding the use of U.S. technology by repressive regimes, including Iran, Sudan, and Syria, all of which you mentioned, that can be used to target human rights activists and dissidents and sensor online information. The United States has controls and restrictions in place regarding exports of these types of U.S. products to Iran, Syria, and Sudan, and we take sanctions violations very seriously and have aggressively pursued enforcement actions where violations have occurred.

In regard to what is happening or if anything will happen, I would refer you to the Department of Commerce and Treasury as they oversee any matter of investigation or enforcement action.

QUESTION: On Saudi Arabia.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: There’s been report about the discovery of two missile sites inside Saudi Arabia, probably aiming at Israel and Iran. Do you have any comments about that?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything for you on that.

QUESTION: On Iraq?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Yesterday, a United Nations spokesman warned that Iraq is sliding fast into a civil war. Do you have any comment on that?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’ve spoken pretty consistently about any concerns of violence that have happened in Iraq. They’ve been through a long transition, as we know. We continue to work with them and work with all parties there. We urge and consistently urge all leaders to maintain a spirit of reconciliation and unity to overcome the threats that are happening there, and we remain in close touch with all parties. I don’t have any specific update for you on it, though.

QUESTION: But you do concur that the situation in Iraq has deteriorated markedly since the beginning of June.

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’ve seen obviously incidents of violence, which we’ve raised concerns about as they’ve come up.

All right. Quiet day today. Do we have one more?

QUESTION: Well, I just --

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: Did you get an answer to my question on Bahrain yesterday?

MS. PSAKI: Sure. Let me give you – well, for any question, of course, about the Fifth Fleet, I would send you to my friends over at the Department of Defense. In terms of steps we’re taken – we’ve taken, or our view on human rights that is happening – or issues that are happening in Bahrain, King Hamad showed leadership in initiating the Bahrain independent commission of inquiry for accepting the recommendations put forward in the report and for committing to implement reforms. While the Government of Bahrain has taken initial steps to implement recommended reforms put forward, we urge it to continue to implement additional reforms. That’s a case that we’re making publicly and privately to them.

QUESTION: And if they don’t?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I don’t have any predictions for you on an event that we’re still working on.

QUESTION: Well, I mean – look, when we talk about Egypt, we talk about other countries. You have some kind of leverage. You have something over their heads that – to put it indelicately. In Bahrain, is there anything that you have as leverage?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’re continuing to press. Beyond that --

QUESTION: You have the presence of several thousand soldiers and a lot of ships. There’s no thought to using that as any kind of leverage?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I know there have been lots of reports, Matt, about this – private sector reports, I should say. But not that I’m aware of, but I would point you to the Department of Defense.

Great. Thanks, everyone.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:57 p.m.)

[This is a mobile copy of Daily Press Briefing - July 11, 2013]