• PH Embassy extends help to Pinay convict

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    A Filipino woman in Kuwait who was convicted for allegedly pledging allegiance to the Islamic State jihadist group and plotting an attack is receiving legal assistance from the Philippine government.

    Citing Philippine Ambassador to Kuwait Renato Pedro Villa, Arab News said the 32-year-old woman has told her lawyer to insist that she was a victim in the case.

    “We fully respect the decision of the Kuwaiti Court and the judicial process. On the other hand, we will file an appeal through our legal team before the Kuwait Court of Appeals for the commutation of her sentence,” Villa was quoted as saying.

    News agency Agence France-Press earlier reported that the woman was sentenced to 10 years in prison by a Kuwaiti court, which had found her guilty.

    The decision is not yet final and may still be appealed.

    The woman entered the Gulf state last June as a housemaid and was arrested in August.

    Local security forces monitored her e-mail accounts and discovered that she was in communication with the militant’s affiliate in Libya and was using a different name to supposedly evade the monitoring, according to Kuwait’s Ministry of Interior.

    Kuwaiti authorities said their surveillance showed that the woman used the Telegram messaging application on her mobile phone to contact her Somali husband in Libya who has an alleged link to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and the Levant.

    They alleged that she had only been waiting for the chance to conduct a suicide bombing attack in Kuwait.

    Villa visited the Filipina at the Sulaibiya Central Jail on Tuesday and assured her of the embassy’s assistance.

    “We would like to thank the Kuwait authorities at the Sulaibiya Central Jail for giving her due process and protecting her rights under the Kuwait law and for guaranteeing her safety,” he said. “We highly appreciate that they are taking care of her and all other Filipino inmates.”

    Villa reminded Filipinos to be wary and extra cautious when chatting with strangers online who might have some terror link to spare them from further legal trouble as Kuwait has strict cybercrime laws and authorities can easily trace online activities with its advanced monitoring system.

    In Russia, representatives of the Philippine Embassy in Moscow are also assisting another Filipino woman, a theft convict, for her early release.

    In a belated news release, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said a team, led by the embassy’s Assistance to Nationals Officer Christian Glenn Baggas, traveled to Penal Colony No. 13 in the Republic of Mordovia on December 12 and 13 to visit the woman.

    Part of the Russian Federation, Mordovia is located 600 kilometers from Moscow.

    Baggas spoke with the Filipina and provided her with some toiletries and personal items, the DFA said.

    The official was also said to have met with prison officials with whom they were able to work out the Filipina’s early release and safe transport back to Moscow.

    Upon her release, the DFA said the embassy will continue to provide assistance to ensure her safety and well-being while in Russia until she returns to the Philippines.

    It added that the embassy constantly updates the Filipina’s friends and family regarding her situation and her early release.

    MICHAEL JOE T. DELIZO

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