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In The Loop
Posted at 11:14 AM ET, 07/16/2012

Unesco set to award dictator-funded prize


Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema. (Franck Fife - AFP/Getty Images)
If tourists are finding post-Bastille Day Paris a little dull, they might want to drop by tomorrow’s UNESCO meeting. The international body is expected to thoroughly embarrass itself and finally award a controversial prize funded by dictator, Teodoro Obiang Nguema of Equatorial Guinea, whose résumé includes judicial corruption, detaining of citizens and pilfering millions from his country’s coffers.

Loop fans might recall the long-standing saga over the Obiang prize: Earlier this year, UNESCO voted to remove his name from the prize, making it more likely it would be awarded — despite the objections of the United States and other Western nations, which argue that a “life sciences” prize funded by such an unsavory fellow would be an embarrassment to the international organization. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who has long questioned where the $3 million Obiang is providing to fund the prize is coming from, says the name’s irrelevant. “Whatever name this prize is given, it only serves to tarnish UNESCO’s image and should be withdrawn if it turns out to have been paid for with funds obtained through corruption,” he said in a statement today.

Obiang is slated to attend tomorrow’s Parisian meeting at which his prize will be bestowed, although the New York Times reports that the dictator might not be able to be there, as he’s dealing with his son’s mounting legal troubles. Teodorin Nguema Obiang, Equatorial Guinea’s “vice president,” was the subject of a French court’s arrest warrant on Friday “after he refused to be interviewed by magistrates about allegations of money laundering and embezzlement, claiming diplomatic immunity,” the Times reports.

Next: The Bashar Assad Human Rights Award?

By  |  11:14 AM ET, 07/16/2012

 
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