US Embassy in Azerbaijan cancels alumni meeting after being labeled "a gathering of agents"
Tensions persist between Azerbaijan and the United States. The US Embassy canceled a meeting of graduates from American universities scheduled in Baku amid reports circulating in pro-government media suggesting that the meeting was, “in fact, a gathering of US agents in Azerbaijan.”
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The USEmbassy has canceled a scheduled gala meeting with graduates of American universities on November 27 at the Marriott Absheron Hotel in Baku. This decision follows reports from pro-government sources, Baku TV and Qafqazinfo, suggesting that “the embassy intended to organize a meeting with its “spy network,” comprising individuals allegedly “recruited as American agents during the period of study in the United States.”
In response to inquiries from the Turan Agency regarding these allegations and the canceled meeting, the U.S. embassy in Baku provided the following response:
“The embassy was eager to celebrate the anniversaries of our two flagship educational and cultural exchange programs, as well as highlight the achievements of the Azerbaijani community of U.S.-educated alumni and their contributions to their home communities.
These anniversaries added an extra layer of significance to the embassy’s annual alumni event this year. More than 400 guests from diverse backgrounds, including government, education, nonprofit, and the private sector, were expected to attend.
We look forward to rescheduling soon,” reads the embassy’s response.
Some experts provided commentary on the cancellation of the event. For instance, Ilham Ismail, a former lieutenant colonel in the ministry of national security and a security expert, remarked that “the US has agents all over the world, including in Azerbaijan, but meetings with agents are typically kept confidential, and their details are not announced to the press in advance.”
He further explained, “To prevent participants in the agent network from recognizing each other, even two agents cannot meet simultaneously in one place,” as reported by Voice of America.
The analyst also contends that if there is reasonable suspicion that individuals slated to participate in the meeting are agents, these individuals should face charges of treason. Moreover, those with knowledge about such suspicions should report to intelligence services rather than the press.
“While it is possible and necessary to criticize the United States, respond strongly to its biased position, and expose manifestations of double standards with facts, such an unprofessional approach creates the opposite effect.”
It’s worth noting that many individuals, numbering in the thousands, who have received or are currently receiving education in the US, did so with the support of the Azerbaijani government. Several years ago a state program was established to fund the education of young people abroad, with most of them studying in the USA, and their education being financed by the Azerbaijani government.