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Thursday, February 24, 2005

Diplomat handcuffed, released in Internet poser case


Bedford County police suspect electronic solicitation of a minor; diplomatic immunity claimed



The Roanoke Times
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Bedford County officials are waiting to see whether the federal government will revoke immunity for a foreign diplomat they say showed up in the Forest area yesterday expecting a tryst with a 13-year-old girl.


Dr. Salem Al-Mazrooei, a diplomat from United Arab Emirates, has not been charged with any crimes, but Bedford County Sheriff Mike Brown said if Al-Mazrooei's immunity is revoked, he will be charged with four felony counts of electronic solicitation of a minor.


Operation Blue Ridge Thunder, a group of Bedford County investigators who focus on Internet crimes against children, has been working this case for about a month, Brown said. He said one investigator posing online as a 13-year-old girl was contacted by Al-Mazrooei, who lives in Vienna, Va., six to eight times during the investigation.


Brown said the suspect believed the girl lived in the Lynchburg or Bedford area and that he arranged a meeting with her in the Forest/New London area of Bedford County on Wednesday afternoon.



When Al-Mazrooei showed up at the location, which police did not disclose, he had a Mapquest map of the location on the front seat of his car, Brown said.


Al-Mazrooei was handcuffed by officers at the scene, but he immediately pulled out his credentials as a diplomat. Brown said one investigator had seen diplomatic credentials before, but Al-Mazrooei was brought back to the sheriff's office so his status could be verified with the U.S. Department of State.


When Bedford County investigators determined that Al-Mazrooei is a diplomat, they had to let him go.


"As far as we know, he is back in Vienna and back at the embassy," Brown said.


But the sheriff said he has requested that the man's immunity be revoked and is faxing a case report and other paperwork to Washington, D.C., to support the request.


He did not know how long it would take to learn whether Bedford County officials can charge Al-Mazrooei with any crimes.


--LINDSEY NAIR
 

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Picking up 13 year olds :evil: Maybe in the United Arab Emrites it is acceptable, but not here! If diplomats are involved in homicides, sexual assaults, sex crimes, etc it should automatic revocation of their immunity. It serves no purpose for those types of incidents. Does it specify where they have to be released? If not, bring him about 50 miles out in the ocean and release him from custody there; swim back to the Persian Gulf, see how far the immunity goes then.
 
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