PORT OF SPAIN — Government has asked former cabinet minister Jack Warner to return his diplomatic passport.
The Express was told by a high-ranking Government official that the United States authorities have been pressuring the Government to withdraw Warner’s diplomatic passport which in effect would remove his diplomatic immunity.
Warner has indicated that he will return his diplomatic passport and that of his wife Maureen by next Wednesday.
In a release yesterday, Warner stated that at 1:05 p.m. he received a call from acting Chief Immigration Officer, Keith Sampson. who requested that he (Warner) immediately return his diplomatic passport.
“Mr. Sampson, who sounded embarrassed to make the request, agreed to give me a one week facility that would allow me to transfer my 10-year US Visa onto my regular passport, after which it would then be immediately returned,” stated Warner. Comparing how former Prime Minister Patrick Manning and current Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar have treated him, Warner stated: “I recall in 2007 when I was elected as a Member of Parliament in the UNC Opposition, on my own volition I offered up my diplomatic passport to Prime Minister Patrick Manning who dignified his office by returning it to me indicating that it was not necessary. My response to Manning then was that you are not so bad after all.
“Fast forward to six years later and this government of which I was an integral part has asked that I return the diplomatic passport. I therefore wish to assure the government that not only will I return the diplomatic passport issued in my name, but also the one issued in my wife’s name, before close of business on Wednesday July 24, 2013,” he added.
Contacted yesterday, acting Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal said this was all due process.
He said when a Minister demits office, he or she would voluntarily return their cell phone, laptop, keys and diplomatic passport.
“The former minister has been in possession of it (passport) for almost three months, not being a Government minister nor holding no other position and my information is that the Ministry or Foreign Affairs has asked the Ministry of National Security to assist in the retrieval of the passport since he was the former minister of national security,” said Moonilal.
“There is no basis for retaining such a travel document. Furthermore I read his release and the visa issued on a diplomatic passport carries a particular classification exempting the bearer from customs and immigration regulations in the US so that visa cannot be transferred to an ordinary passport so that Mr Warner’s suggestion that he has to transfer the visa may not be correct,” he added.
Warner, he said, may have to apply for a new non immigrant US visa. (Express)