NEWS

US envoy missing on Cyprus

Cypriot police said yesterday they were searching for a senior American diplomat stationed in Nicosia who has been missing for three days. «A member of the American Embassy has been reported as missing and police are cooperating with the US Embassy in search efforts to try and find him,» a police spokeswoman told Agence France-Presse. Thomas Mooney, described on the Cyprus government Foreign Ministry website as a US defense attache, was last seen on Thursday afternoon. His car is also missing. The embassy declined to state the nature of his work, calling him an «employee.» Police would not say whether they are treating the case as suspicious and did not elaborate further on an investigation being treated as «sensitive.» According to state radio, the 45-year-old diplomat was last seen leaving the US Embassy on Thursday lunchtime, adding that his mobile phone is switched off. It said the Americans contacted the police late on Friday after their own internal investigation came up with nothing. Police are concentrating their initial search on ports and airports as well as checkpoints on the divided island’s Green Line, the radio said. The embassy would not elaborate on the circumstances of his disappearance nor give further details about the diplomat, who has been serving in Cyprus for more than a year. »He just disappeared,» a US Embassy official told Reuters. However, an announcement posted on the embassy’s website urges anyone with information «which might be helpful in locating him» to contact local police. A picture of Mooney and his missing black car with tinted windows are also posted on the site. The Cypriot Foreign Ministry website said Mooney was accredited to the island in June 2006. Cyprus is considered a very safe location for diplomats, with attacks against foreign embassy staff rare. The island has not witnessed any terror-related violence since the late 1980s, when the Israeli Embassy came under attack. (AFP/Reuters)