2:34 p.m. EDT
MR MILLER: Afternoon, everyone. I —
QUESTION: Good afternoon.
MR MILLER: Thank you – do not have any opening comments, so Matt?
QUESTION: You don’t have anything to say at all?
MR MILLER: I’m happy to be here. Happy Wednesday. I have that to say.
QUESTION: Really? Okay. Hold on, let me get my recorder. Okay, got it. Okay. What – so all right. So what can you tell us about this hack, the – this infiltration of at least State Department e-mail hacks?
MR MILLER: I can say that last month the State Department detected anomalous activity. We did two things immediately. One, we took immediate steps to secure our systems, and two, took immediate steps to notify Microsoft of the event. As a matter of cyber security policy, we do not discuss the details of our response. The incident remains under investigation, and we continuously monitor our networks and update our security procedures.
QUESTION: Okay. Well, can you just explain to those of us who are technologically illiterate what “anomalous activity” is?
MR MILLER: That might be the blind leading the blind. (Laughter.) In this instance, I will say that an anomalous incident – I don’t want to get into the details because it does remain under investigation and —
QUESTION: Okay. Just – but what – I mean, what does that mean?
MR MILLER: But it is – it is – it is —
QUESTION: That – I sent an email to someone and it, like, gets returned because they’re on vacation or something?
MR MILLER: It is activity in which an actor is attempting to or successful in breaching our systems. We discovered it last month, and as I said, immediately took steps to secure our systems and then also notified Microsoft.
QUESTION: And were they successful in breaching the systems?
MR MILLER: I am not going to speak in any detail about the underlying event.
QUESTION: Okay. And this happened – you discovered this before or after the Secretary’s trip to Asia?
MR MILLER: I’m not at liberty to say the exact date other than that it was last month.
QUESTION: And do you have reasonable suspicion about who might be behind it?
MR MILLER: We have not yet made a public attribution.
QUESTION: I know.
MR MILLER: Yeah, I know. I certainly note – I’ve certainly noted – we’ve certainly noted the attribution that Microsoft has made for the incident.
QUESTION: Exactly. Do you have any reason —
MR MILLER: But as – but on —
QUESTION: Do you have any reason to doubt that?
MR MILLER: No. But on behalf of the U.S. Government, we have not made our own attribution at this point.
QUESTION: But you have no reason to doubt it?
MR MILLER: No.
MR MILLER: But that’s not the same thing as us confirming, with our own attribution, of course.
QUESTION: I’m not saying it is.
MR MILLER: Understood.
QUESTION: I’m just saying you don’t have any reason —
MR MILLER: We understand.
QUESTION: I mean, you don’t think it’s, like, I don’t know, people from the Falkland Islands?
MR MILLER: I do not believe it’s people from the Falkland Islands.
QUESTION: Okay, thank you.
QUESTION: Can you say the target – is it people or bureaus within this building?
MR MILLER: I cannot. I can’t get into that level of detail.
QUESTION: And is this something that the United States plans to raise with the Chinese if you make the attribution that they’re the ones behind it?
MR MILLER: I would not want to say who we might raise it with before we’ve publicly made an attribution.
QUESTION: Any way it’s going to happen?
QUESTION: Yeah, thank you, Matt. Do you know North Korea launched the long-range ballistic missiles from Pyongyang into the East Sea yesterday, I think last night U.S. time, just three days after North Korea warned that it would shoot down U.S. reconnaissance – I mean, reconnaissance craft. White House said that, today, this launch is a brazen violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions. How would you comment on – State Department comment?
MR MILLER: I would say that the United States strongly condemns the DPRK for its test of an intercontinental ballistic missile. The President’s national security team is assessing the situation in close coordination with our allies and partners. Secretary Blinken will see a number of those allies and partners while at the ASEAN summit the next several days. The launch is a brazen violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions and needlessly raises tensions and risks destabilizing the security situation in the region. It demonstrates that the DPRK continues to prioritize its unlawful weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs over the well-being of its people. And finally, we urge all countries to condemn these violations and call on the DPRK to come to the table for serious negotiations.
QUESTION: Yeah. However, the UN Security Council has not properly adopted the statement. And fundamentally, what role do you think the State Department need for the future?
MR MILLER: What – I’m sorry. What —
QUESTION: What roles the State Department need for the future —
MR MILLER: I wouldn’t want to —
QUESTION: — so maybe it’s kind of – to have a —
MR MILLER: Yeah.
QUESTION: Do you have sanctions for it?
MR MILLER: I wouldn’t want to speak to any future actions from the podium today.
QUESTION: But do you have your own sanctions right now? Right?
MR MILLER: We do, yes.
QUESTION: Yes. But you have additional sanctions regarding this launch you’re —
MR MILLER: Not that I have any ability to preview today.
Said, go ahead.
QUESTION: Thank you. Switching to the Palestinian issue, first of all, just to follow up on my question yesterday about the Sub Laban family that was evicted from its home in East Jerusalem. I wondered if you had a chance to look at the issue and if you have any comment.
MR MILLER: I did, and I will say that we have been clear that it is critical for Israel and the Palestinian Authority to refrain from unilateral steps that exacerbate tensions and undercut efforts to advance a negotiated two-state solution. And that certainly includes evictions of families from homes in East Jerusalem in which they have lived for generations.
QUESTION: Does that rise up to the level of a war crime, evicting people from their home by force, and that it was given to the settlers like an hour later or something?
MR MILLER: I will just say, as I said, that we believe it is critical for Israel and Palestinian Authority to refrain from such steps.
QUESTION: And a couple of other issues. There was an article by Thomas Friedman in which he claimed that they’re – the U.S. is reassessing of its policy toward the Netanyahu government. Is there any reassessment going on in your view?
MR MILLER: No, there’s been no talk of any kind of formal reassessment. The United States and Israel share a special bond, and our enduring commitment to Israel’s security is ironclad. Our partnership is based on shared democratic values and shared interests. But I will say, like in most relationships, we have our differences and concerns. And you’ve seen – we’ve talked about how we raise those differences and concerns with them privately. And we’ve – you’ve seen the President and others in the administration talk about them publicly.
QUESTION: I don’t think you have shared values. You don’t evict people from their homes, and by force. Anyway, he says – some things he says that the government is doing all it can to basically make the fiction – the fiction, as he calls it, calls for a two-state solution completely unattainable by any metric. Do you agree with that assessment?
MR MILLER: Those are his words, not ours. I would say that, as the President reiterated even just this weekend, the United States remains committed to a two-state solution.
QUESTION: He also says, on the visa waiver, he says if a settler from Hebron is granted a visa, a visa waiver to come to the United States, would you grant the same thing for the people that live in Hebron, the Palestinians that live there?
MR MILLER: I would just say with respect to the Visa Waiver Program what I’ve said before without getting into any kind of hypotheticals, that at this time Israel does not meet all of the Visa Waiver Program eligibility requirements. We support steps that would be beneficial for the U.S. and Israel. One such step is working together for Israel to fulfill all the requirements of the Visa Waiver Program. But that’s not where we are today.
QUESTION: And lastly, 40 senators are holding nominations and so on – or they vowed to hold nomination, approving nominations, confirming nominees, until such time that Biden administration goes back on the decision not to fund, like, Ariel University in the West Bank, and so on. Do you have any comment on that?
MR MILLER: Yeah, I would just say two things about it. One, that the guidance that you refer to is simply reflective of the longstanding U.S. position, reaffirmed by this administration, that the ultimate disposition of the geographic areas which came under the administration of Israel after 1967 is a final status matter. So we are just reverting U.S. policy to where it was before 2020. I don’t recall nominees of previous administrations, including Republican administrations, being held up over this policy. There are a number of our nominees on the floor right now waiting for votes. The vast majority, I think it’s 26 out of 27, are career Foreign Service Officers who are waiting to be confirmed to posts that are essential to our national security. So we certainly hope that senators will not move to place holds on those nominees.
QUESTION: So is that a ploy by the Republicans to sort of blackmail this administration on this issue?
MR MILLER: I won’t characterize it in any way other than say – other than to say that it is a detriment to our national security when we see our nominees for critical posts being held up, especially for issues unrelated to their qualifications, their service, or the job that they will be performing.
QUESTION: If you’re reverting to the previous – to pre-Trump administration policy, why aren’t you – on this, on this specific issue – why don’t you move the embassy back to Tel Aviv? Why don’t you reinstate the findings of the determination of the Hansell memorandum about the legality or the legitimacy of settlements? If it’s open – if it’s an open question for this, which it obviously is because you reversed it, why not do those?
MR MILLER: I will say with respect to the Hansell memo, that’s just – as we’ve talked about before, that’s just not a step that we have taken at this point.
QUESTION: Yeah, I know, but you’ve taken this other step.
MR MILLER: Right.
QUESTION: To go – to reverse course.
MR MILLER: We have, and I don’t want to preview what we may or may not do.
QUESTION: What about the embassy?
MR MILLER: I don’t want to say what we may or may not do in the future, but it’s not a step that we’ve taken now, and we believe the embassy is appropriate where it is today.
QUESTION: What about the consulate in East Jerusalem? What about the consulate? Any —
MR MILLER: I don’t have any comment on that.
QUESTION: A question on the House Foreign Affairs Chairman McCaul subpoenaing Secretary Blinken yesterday related to key China documents. Previously requested these in May. What led to the issuing of the subpoena between then and now?
MR MILLER: Let me say a few things. One, as a general principle, the State Department is committed to working with congressional committees to appropriately accommodate their need for information to help them conduct their oversight responsibilities. We have been acting in good faith in conversations with Chairman McCaul’s staff. We think it’s unfortunate and unproductive that they issued this subpoena while we were in conversations with them.
I would note, as I noted the last time we talked about a subpoena from this committee, that the courts have made clear that they expect congressional committees to engage in a good-faith back-and-forth negotiation process with the administration when it comes to access to documents. From our perspective, we were in the middle of that process and were evaluating the committee’s request with an eye toward turning over some documents when they issued this very subpoena. So we will of course continue to try to respond to their request in a timely manner. We have to balance that with the growing number of congressional inquiries we’ve gotten, including from this committee, and the committee’s shifting priorities when they issue a range of document requests. So we will continue to try to work with them to meet their legitimate needs while balancing the fact that we have to fulfill other requests as well.
QUESTION: And what was the sticking point that led to this subpoena? What kind of stalled those negotiations? McCaul said further obstruction and delay will not be tolerated; what are they looking for that they’re now subpoenaing?
MR MILLER: I don’t want to litigate it publicly because I think it’s appropriate that we have those conversations with them in private at this point, although I will say that we were in discussions with them and were looking – were holding those discussions with an eye toward turning over documents when they short-circuited the process and issued this subpoena.
I will also say that we have had 49 engagements with members of that committee just since January. So we continue to have discussions with them, we have provided documents with them – to them on other matters. And I would just say to the underlying claim that I’ve seen the committee and other members on the Hill make about our actions with respect to the PRC, we have done more to counter the PRC than any administration in recent memory. We are clear-eyed about the challenge and our actions back that up. Since President Biden has taken office, this administration has issued a record-setting number of sanctions, export controls, competitive actions with respect to the PRC.
And I will say when I was in Beijing with Secretary Blinken, one of the things we heard over and over from Chinese officials is their deep protests and their deep complaints about the competitive actions that we have taken. And one of the things that we have – that we made clear to them, that Secretary Blinken made clear to them, is that we stand by the actions that we have taken, and we will continue to impose additional costs to them – on them when it’s appropriate to do so.
QUESTION: One quick follow-up —
MR MILLER: Yeah.
QUESTION: — while we’re on the congressional side of things. The State Department delivered the letter regarding Rob Malley to the committee yesterday. Have you received a response from the State Department’s letter?
MR MILLER: Not that I’m aware of.
QUESTION: Chairman McCaul called and asked —
QUESTION: On the same subject, Matt?
MR MILLER: Yeah, go ahead.
QUESTION: Well, Chairman McCaul wasn’t very happy with the State Department’s letter. About the security clearance aspect of the whole thing, the State Department – even when the investigation is over, still the State Department cannot, will not turn over the information?
MR MILLER: I don’t want to speak to where we might be at the conclusion – and this is not with respect to Rob Malley, but generally with respect to the conclusion of any investigation, what we might decide to do. I will note that in that letter, we made a few things clear: one, that there were some areas where we did think it was appropriate to provide them information. For example, with respect to personnel information there are some things that we could provide them and we would look to do so, that we would engage with them to talk about policy matters. But there are certain areas – investigations are one – where there is – the longstanding practice of the Executive Branch, that is backed up by significant jurisprudence, including a Supreme Court ruling, in which it is not appropriate to turn over information to the Congress.
QUESTION: No matter the outcome of the investigation?
MR MILLER: I don’t want to speak to where we might be at some point down —
QUESTION: As a matter of practice, even when the investigation is over, whatever the result, you still will not, cannot —
MR MILLER: I just don’t want to speak to where we might be at some point down the road. I can speak to where we are today.
QUESTION: Okay, what about the part that he is going to – he said he’s going to ask the State Department for a confidential briefing by Abram Paley and Brett McGurk. Is the State Department going to comply?
MR MILLER: As we said in the letter, we will engage with his staff about providing them an update on policy matters. As you know, we have briefed members of Congress a number of times. We had a briefing for all members of the Senate – I believe it was last month; it might have been in May – on Iran policy, and we will continue to do so. But as we said in the letter, we are willing and look forward to engage with them on that question. I don’t want to preview what that engagement might look like, but it is something that we wanted to discuss with them.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR MILLER: Yeah.
QUESTION: Can you speak to some of the security guarantees that were announced today? Particularly from the U.S. standpoint, what do they look like? And if there is any timetable to secure those guarantees that the next administration will not be able to reverse them if they wish to.
MR MILLER: So let me say that – a few things. Number one, that the statement that the G7 issued today launched a process where we will begin bilateral discussions with Ukraine and other countries who are members of the G7 will begin bilateral discussions with Ukraine about long-term security commitments that we can make to them. We have talked a lot in the 16 months since this war began about the security assistance that we’ve provided to Ukraine. And as you know, we continue to roll out new security assistance packages all the time. But the focus of this effort that was announced today is how we can put Ukraine on an appropriate long-term footing to defend itself against not just the Russian aggression that they’re suffering now, but future Russian aggression.
And so it’s going to focus on ensuring Ukraine has a sustainable fighting force capable of defending the country, a strong and stable economy, and it will – as I spoke to yesterday, when we were talking about the NATO communique – focus on the help Ukraine needs to advance its reform agenda and support the good governance necessary to advance its European aspirations.
So I don’t want to put any timetable. As I said, these are discussions that we are beginning with them and that other countries are beginning with them.
I will say that one of the things we said in the – when the statement was released that we collectively as the G7 said that we would welcome other countries join – joining as well. We have already had other countries reach out to us and say they would like to join that statement and be part of this process going forward, and so we welcome other countries who are willing to step up to the plate to help secure Ukraine’s long-term future.
QUESTION: Speaking of other countries, France, for instance, announced providing with long‑range missiles. And of course they also support NATO membership. Is there a concern in this building that you are lagging behind allies when it comes to this particular topic?
MR MILLER: Lagging behind allies? The United States is far and away the leading provider of security assistance —
MR MILLER: — far and away the leading provider of security assistance to Ukraine. I don’t think there is any such concern.
QUESTION: ATACMS? Decisions around ATACMS did not come out despite all expectations.
MR MILLER: We have not made the decision to provide Ukraine ATACMS, but if you look at the full range of security assistance, I would put the United States efforts behind no one, and the numbers back that up.
QUESTION: Thank you. And President —
QUESTION: — President said that – on membership —
MR MILLER: One more ask.
QUESTION: The President said, “I look forward to the day when we are having the meeting [to celebrate Ukraine’s] official membership in NATO.” Did he mean by the end of his first term?
MR MILLER: I do not want to try to add more texture to that. The President made clear that in the view of the administration NATO membership is appropriate when the war in Russia is ended. We would obviously welcome that war ending tomorrow, and it could end tomorrow if Russia would withdraw its forces, but I don’t think it’s possible to put a timeline on that.
QUESTION: But hypothetically speaking, if it ends tomorrow, can Ukraine become a member?
MR MILLER: I am not going to – I’m not – you’ve already lost me with the —
QUESTION: Can Ukraine become a member —
MR MILLER: You’ve already lost me with the hypothetical – let me —
MR MILLER: Let me go to someone else who hasn’t had a question.
QUESTION: I wanted to follow up on the breaches. Is the State Department instituting anything different, anything new to prevent something like this from happening again?
MR MILLER: I would say – so the first thing we did was engage with Microsoft, whose systems were at issue here. And – but that said, we always look at incidents such as this and seek to learn how to better protect our systems. And of course we engage in conversation with the third party providers about how they can better protect the systems that they provide to us.
QUESTION: And have you engaged with any – anybody in the Chinese about this issue?
MR MILLER: I don’t have any conversations to read out.
MR MILLER: Let me – Janne, I’ve already – let me come back to you, Janne –
MR MILLER: — because I’ve already had a –
QUESTION: Russia —
QUESTION: Israel and Jenin, please?
MR MILLER: Go ahead, on Jenin.
QUESTION: Israel and Jenin issue. I was just going to follow up with what I asked just the other day – and thank you, by the way, Matt, for taking my questions. I have a background to the Jenin question. Today, under Oslo, the Palestinian Authority pledged to disarm militias. The PA was granted a police force, armed and trained by the United States for that very purpose, and first what happened to the PA police force of thousands and their weapons? Second, why isn’t the State Department publicly criticizing Abbas and the PA for not doing as they promised? And thirdly, I want to reiterate my question from yesterday: Do you agree that the Palestinian Authority has full or shared blame for letting Jenin because a terrorist haven industrial complex for weapons?
MR MILLER: I will say that obviously it is the responsibility of the Palestinian Authority to conduct appropriate law enforcement operations in its jurisdiction, but at the same time, it is the – it is appropriate for Israel to take appropriate steps to defend its security.
QUESTION: Thank you, Matt.
MR MILLER: Yeah, Janne, go ahead.
QUESTION: Yeah, Russia’s – Russia’s defense minister said that Russia would use the same weapons it is the U.S. provide cluster munitions to Ukraine. How will you respond on this?
MR MILLER: That Russia would provide those weapons? I mean, or that – I’m sorry —
QUESTION: No, no.
MR MILLER: — that Russia would use those weapons?
MR MILLER: Russia has been using cluster munitions —
QUESTION: I —
MR MILLER: — since the beginning of this war and has been using them not just against military targets but against civilian targets, as it has used other munitions against civilian targets. It’s one of the reasons that members of the administration came to the decision that it was appropriate to provide cluster munitions at this time because when you look at the risk of duds, which is much smaller with the munitions that we are providing than the ones that Russia has used, Ukraine at the end of this conflict is already going to have to conduct demining activities anyway to deal with the number of duds that Russia has spread around the country by the thousands. So given that, it seemed like the appropriate decision for us to make. But Russia using cluster munitions in this war would be nothing new – far from it.
QUESTION: That’s what President Zelenskyy said at NATO Summit.
MR MILLER: Yeah.
MR MILLER: All right. Go ahead.
QUESTION: Thank you, Matthew. On Maldives. Maldives election due in September. Observers characterizing the upcoming election in terms of a contest of – between influence between India and China as former President Abdulla Yameen Gayoom had been characterized by an open door to Chinese investment, incurring massive Chinese debt and considerable corruption. So what is your comment on the upcoming election of the Maldives?
MR MILLER: I would just say an election in the Maldives is the same as an election anywhere; that it’s a matter for the people of that country to decide.
QUESTION: Thank you much. Just after you started the briefing a notification popped up; it’s from President Biden, and there’s a special video of him and President Erdogan, and there’s this message: “President Erdogan, thank you for your courage, leadership, and diplomacy.” Considering all the problematic points that you and I and also the other spokespeople have talked about, would you argue that this is the best that the relationship has been between the two countries since the Biden administration took office? And what do you think the prospects of the bilateral ties could be?
MR MILLER: I would say that we have always made clear that we see Türkiye as an important NATO Ally. That has been clear from the beginning. The President has made that clear. Obviously, we’ve had differences with Türkiye over specific matters; we have differences with most of our allies over specific matters, and we deal with those differences constructively, or at least we attempt to.
So certainly, as the President said, we welcome Türkiye’s decision to support Sweden’s accession into NATO. It’s something that we had encouraged them to do and we were gratified that the president made that decision.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR MILLER: Yeah.
QUESTION: So going back to the G7 statement, so it says that – and you said that – it says that each country will begin bilateral negotiations. But it also contains some language that clear – that states that the countries, the signatory countries will come to Ukraine’s aid in case of aggression. So is that already a commitment? The – is the joint sentiment – statement already a commitment to – a security commitment? And what is the end result of this negotiation? Will it be a treaty?
MR MILLER: The commitment – I would say yes, it is a commitment that we will come to Ukraine’s aid, as we have come to Ukraine’s aid in this conflict. The details of what that aid look like are exactly what we and the other members of the G7 and other countries that joined in will discuss.
QUESTION: And can you say anything about the countries that have expressed desire to join (inaudible)?
MR MILLER: I don’t have a – I don’t have a full list, but it’s something that we will be making public in the coming days.
MR MILLER: I’ll have to take that one back. Yeah, take that one back.
Yeah, go ahead.
QUESTION: Thank you. I have follow-up question on North Korea. At ASEAN ministerial meeting and ARF meeting, which Secretary will join soon in Indonesia, what kind of message do you expect to send to North Korea following the recent launch of ICBM?
MR MILLER: I think that the Secretary will send the same message that you heard the White House reiterate today and that you heard me say from this podium a few minutes ago, which is that we strongly condemn the DPRK for its ICBM test. At the same time, we will make clear, as we have for some time, that the door is open to diplomacy. Pyongyang has so far rejected that offer for diplomacy. We would hope that they would reconsider and we would hope that all countries, including countries in the region, would condemn the violations of UN Security Council resolutions and encourage the – North Korea to come to the table for serious negotiations.
QUESTION: To follow up —
MR MILLER: Yeah.
QUESTION: — China announced that top diplomat Wang Yi will join ASEAN ministerial meeting in Indonesia, and do you expect any meeting or engagement between Secretary and Wang Yi?
MR MILLER: I would say in answer to that we will be making the Secretary’s full schedule at ASEAN available tonight, including the bilateral meetings he’ll be have – be having with representatives of other countries.
Yeah, go ahead. Come back to you next.
QUESTION: Israel’s diaspora affairs minister yesterday alleged that President Biden and the administration’s statements on Israel are prearranged and coordinated with Israeli opposition figures to stoke protests against Israel’s judicial reforms. Do you have that response to that allegation?
MR MILLER: I’d say it’s absolutely not true.
QUESTION: Erdogan said today he wouldn’t introduce the protocol for ratification for Sweden until parliament’s back in session in October. Does the U.S. see that as – this as an acceptable timeline, and will it impact a potential F-16 sale?
MR MILLER: I don’t have any comment on the timeline other than to say that, as I said, we welcome the president’s support. We think that’s serious, and we would urge it to happen as soon as possible, and I’ll leave it at that.
Alex, go ahead.
MR MILLER: Yeah.
QUESTION: The Secretary yesterday spoke with Armenian prime minister. Clearly, he is remaining engaged even though he’s traveling right now. Is there any reason, anything triggered that call? And is he planning to call to Azerbaijan as well, and if there’s any upcoming meeting (inaudible)?
MR MILLER: No meeting that has been scheduled as of yet, though we do continue to look forward to the next engagement between the ministers from both Armenia and Azerbaijan, but I don’t have any update to give.
QUESTION: I would appreciate it if you help me unpack a little bit the phrase that you guys have adopted since May, which is, quote/unquote, “the peace is within reach,” “agreement is within reach.” English is my second language. I’m trying to understand how to translate that into Azerbaijani and Armenian if I put in the time frame, which is about a month, two months, five months. When you say “within reach,” what do you mean?
MR MILLER: I can’t help you with the translation, obviously, nor would I want to put a timetable on it. I will say what the – we have meant when we say it’s within reach is that they have made significant progress on a number of issues. Even in the last meeting, they narrowed the number of issues that remain unresolved. And so we think with a dwindling number of issues to resolve, the agreement’s within reach, but that involves – that of course would involve both parties being willing to compromise.
MR MILLER: I’m just not aware of that.
QUESTION: But why wasn’t he not – why was he not there?
MR MILLER: I’m just simply not aware.
QUESTION: Do you have – do you have any comment on the fact that Georgia was forgotten from any statement that came out of Vilnius – the Vilnius Summit?
MR MILLER: I would say that Georgia is a steadfast NATO Enhanced Opportunities partner. It’s a category reserved for NATO’s closest partners. And on the United States’ behalf, we continue to support Georgia’s NATO aspirations.
MR MILLER: I speak for the United States.
QUESTION: A while back, I asked your predecessor, Ned, about the case of this Cambodian American woman, Theary Seng, who has been detained in Cambodia for many months now. This morning – and he – and Ned when I asked said that she should be released immediately, but he didn’t have any kind of – he didn’t have any information on whether or not she had been designated as wrongfully detained. This morning, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention came out with a ruling, I guess, saying that she has been wrongfully detained, and I’m just wondering if you guys have any update on where her status stands, if the case would be turned over to SPEHA or if it’s still just a Consular Affairs matter.
MR MILLER: Let me say a few things first before I get to that part, which is that, number one, we reaffirm our condemnation of the conviction and six-year sentencing of human rights activist Seng Theary, who did nothing more than peacefully express her opinions. We continue to call on the Cambodian Government to immediately release her, as well as to immediately release all individuals detained on politically motivated charges. Secretary Blinken has raised this issue directly with his Cambodian counterparts, and we continue to provide her with all appropriate consular services with – during her detention.
With respect to the question of wrongful detention, I will say that the process is still ongoing. We have not made a determination at this point, but we continue to review the totality of circumstances in this case.
QUESTION: Okay. I mean, it was still ongoing when I asked about it before, which was a couple months ago now.
MR MILLER: Yeah, and I’d say —
QUESTION: How long – so she’s not a basketball player, so it – she’s not a Wall Street Journal reporter, so it – it doesn’t go very quickly?
MR MILLER: So I would – so let me just say in response to that first before I get to it, which is the administration has secured the release of over two dozen Americans. I think – I know —
QUESTION: I’m not saying – I’m not saying that you haven’t. I’m just – it’s been months.
MR MILLER: I’m just saying that only one of them was a basketball player, and it – right.
QUESTION: It’s been – but it’s been months now – yeah, but in those two cases that I just mentioned, the determination was made extremely quickly.
MR MILLER: Some – and I will say sometimes the nature of the detention makes the decision —
QUESTION: And so the nature of this detention is not the same as —
MR MILLER: I will say makes it – makes the decision extremely easy. In other cases, there are more factors that we have to look at. But I will say that regardless of her status, we have called on her publicly to be released, and we – the Secretary has pressed Cambodian officials privately for her release.
QUESTION: I am not saying that you guys haven’t called for her release and you haven’t done that.
MR MILLER: I understand.
QUESTION: But the fact of the matter is, is that it has been months since she was detained and months since she was imprisoned and months since I first asked about this and months since it was under review, and yet in high-profile cases, this decision seems to be made very, very quickly.
MR MILLER: I would say that in some cases, the nature – the facts of the case make it —
QUESTION: Yeah, because you guys get a lot more – because there’s a lot more attention paid to them, right?
MR MILLER: No, that is – I reject that characterization completely. It is the facts and the circumstances of the case that make it very clear —
QUESTION: Oh, okay. All right. Then give me an example of a non-high-profile case where someone has been declared wrongfully detained within a month or two of their detention.
MR MILLER: I will tell you that —
QUESTION: One. Just one.
MR MILLER: With – I think you’re looking at it the wrong way. I think the fact that we have returned, as I said, over two dozen Americans – the vast majority of them are not celebrities or basketball —
QUESTION: I’m not saying that you don’t (inaudible).
MR MILLER: The – it is the – this department and the United States Government apply just as much pressure and apply just as much force for every American that is wrongfully detained or that we believe otherwise should be released as we do for celebrities or anyone else, and the record backs that up.
QUESTION: So there is – so there is no difference if a case is transferred to SPEHA and someone is declared wrongfully detained and SPEHA takes it over from Consular Affairs?
MR MILLER: There are different assets and interests —
QUESTION: Yes, there are differences, and you know that there are.
MR MILLER: — yes, that we bring to bear. There are – but —
QUESTION: And so – and it gets – and it gets different priority level attention from inside the administration. And you know it does.
MR MILLER: I would say there is no higher level – there is – it is – they are treated – there are different assets that are brought to bear, but with respect to this case, there is no higher – there is no higher priority we can make it or higher pressure we can bring to bear than the Secretary of State himself personally raising a case with his counterparts.
QUESTION: I am not suggesting that he hasn’t done that or that you guys haven’t been trying. I’m just wondering why it’s taking so long for you guys to make this kind of a determination when in other cases – more high-profile cases – it’s been done very, very quickly.
MR MILLER: The difference between the cases is not the profile, the relative profile. This is a very high —
QUESTION: Well —
MR MILLER: This is a – I would say this is a very high-profile case, and the difference in the cases is not – is not the —
QUESTION: It is? How many times have you been asked about it in this room, other than by me? None. None. (Laughter.)
MR MILLER: I am not asked – I’m not asked questions about most of the Americans who are wrongfully detained.
MR MILLER: But that doesn’t mean that we’re not working on them with all – with every bit of strength that we can.
QUESTION: Okay. All right.
MR MILLER: All right. I think we’ll wrap it there. Thanks, everyone.
QUESTION: Okay. Thank you.
(The briefing was concluded at 3:11 p.m.)
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