US recalls ambassador to Azerbaijan
BAKU, Azerbaijan, April 21 (UPI) --
The U.S. State Department is recalling U.S. Ambassador Reno Harnish from Azerbaijan.
The Azerbaijani media is rife with speculation that Harnish is being recalled because of a burgeoning human smuggling scandal which came to the attention of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The Moscow newspaper Trud newspaper reported on Thursday that FBI agents began interviews with embassy officials about the smuggling of Azerbaijani prostitutes into the United States and the issuing of visas.
As the investigation proceeded, Zarifa Dzhabieva, a former translator for the American embassy was found knifed to death in her own home. Whoever killed Dzhabieva ransacked her dwelling looking for something, even though none of the victim's valuables had been touched. Dzhabieva was under investigation for aiding and abetting the issuing of visas and forged documents to girls destined for the U.S. sex trade.
The head of the Public Relations Center for the U.S. Embassy in Azerbaijan Jonathan Henick said only, "The uncovering of the crime linked to the sale of Azerbaijani girls to the USA, and the punishment of the guilty parties merely shows the high level of American-Azerbaijani relations."
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