International Law

Australian Lawyer Detained in Mongolia Subject to 10-Hour Interrogation, Says Family

Sarah Armstrong, the SouthGobi lawyer who last week was detained by the Mongolian government as a corruption investigation witness, has been subject to lengthy interrogations, her mother told the Weekend Australian.

“She’s in interrogation at the moment. They’ve got her now,” Yvonne Armstrong said last night, according to the Australian. “Last time, the questioning went for 10 hours.”

Armstrong, an Australian whose company is a Rio Tinto subsidiary, signed a complaint against the Mongolian government four months ago. Also, her company recently rejected a move by the government there to reconstruct its investment in the copper and gold mine Oyu Tolgoi, which is Mongolia’s biggest mining project.

Australia’s Foreign Minister Bob Carr said the country’s consul-general accompanied Armstrong and her lawyer to the interrogation. He hopes to learn why she’s prevented from leaving Mongolia.

According to the Australian, Mongolia news groups report that the government there is investigating SouthGobi for avoiding taxes and for the awarding of licences. In May, the Australian reports, Mongolia’s anti-corruption agency raided a SouthGobi office, in an investigation of the group’s operating company SouthGobi Sands. Justin Kapla, a U.S. engineer who is president of SouthGobi Sands, was also detained by the Mongolian government.

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