No credible threat against US ambassador to SA – State Security Agency

Lana Marks. Image credit: Twitter/US embassy SA

The government says the information it currently has “does not sustain the allegation that there is a credible threat” against US ambassador to South Africa Lana Marks.

In a joint statement on Friday, the State Security Agency (SSA) and Department of Defence said government officials had met their US counterparts “and other relevant stakeholders” over the matter.

Additional information

“The South African officials have requested additional information from the US government. Once the information is forthcoming, the facts will be reviewed and re-assessed.

“Our sovereignty and territorial integrity is of outmost importance to the South African government and her people. In this regard, the South African government takes seriously any alleged threat and we have therefore heightened our security situation/alertness. It is our duty to protect all diplomatic missions, and their personnel, present in South Africa,” they said.

Citing unnamed US intelligence officials, a Politico report published earlier this week claimed the Iranian government was “weighing” an assassination attempt against Marks. The alleged attempt would reportedly be in retaliation for the US assassination of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani earlier this year.

US officials were reportedly aware of the alleged threat since the northern hemisphere’s Spring season. The Iranian embassy in Pretoria is involved in the plot, the report claimed.

SSA said earlier this week that it the nature of the alleged plot did not permit it to provide detailed updates on the investigations.

“Reports thereon shall be provided to all the relevant authorities, including the President of the Republic, the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, and relevant officials in the US administration,” it said.

Trump reacts

Reacting to the alleged plot, US President Donald Trump tweeted on Monday, “Any attack by Iran, in any form, against the United States will be met with an attack on Iran that will be 1,000 times greater in magnitude!”

However, the Iranian foreign ministry refuted the reports as “baseless” and part of “repetitive and rotten methods to create an anti-Iranian atmosphere.”

The US embassy in South Africa has not commented publicly on the matter. The 66-year-old Marks is a personal friend of Trump and owns a successful handbag business.

She was sworn in as US ambassador to South Africa in October last year and reportedly speaks Afrikaans and isiXhosa.

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