The Telegraph 2024-02-21 04:30:26

Prince William’s plea to end Gaza fighting risks diplomatic rift with Israel

The Prince of Wales has called for an end to the fighting in Gaza in an intervention that risks sparking a diplomatic rift with Israel…

American woman faces 20 years in Russian jail for ‘treason’ after donating $50 to Ukraine war effort

An American woman faces up to 20 years in a Russian jail for reportedly giving $50 (£40) to an organisation raising money for the Ukrainian army.

Ksenia Karelina, has been charged with “high treason”, after being arrested by the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) in the central Urals city of Yekaterinburg.

The 33-year-old is the latest American to be locked up in Russia amid concerns Vladimir Putin is using detained foreign nationals as bargaining chips.

Evan Gershkovich, 32, a Wall Street Journal reporter, was arrested last year on espionage charges that he, his employer and the US government have strenuously denied.

Ms Karelina, who was detained on Tuesday, is accused by the FSB of collecting funds “used to purchase tactical medical items, equipment, means of destruction and ammunition”.

Perviy Otdel, a legal rights group, told The New York Times that Ms Karelina is accused of sending just over $50 to Razom for Ukraine, a New York-based non-profit human rights organisation.

She is also accused of repeatedly participating in public events in support of Ukraine in the US.

The FSB said Ms Karelina, had been acting “against the security of our country”, news agencies reported.

Russian-born Ms Karelina, who lives in Los Angeles, obtained US citizenship in 2021.

She was detained on a trip back to Russia to see her parents. Analysis of her social media profiles suggest she attended the Ural Federal University in Yekaterinburg.

According to Perviy Otdel, a group of Russian lawyers who specialise in politically charged cases, the number of treason cases in the country has been rising steadily since the invasion of Ukraine.

A video shared by Russian state news agency Tass shows the woman being handcuffed while wearing a cream puffer jacket with a white hat pulled down over her eyes. She is escorted by a man in military camouflage who appears to be a Russian soldier.

She is ushered into a car and later appears behind bars in what appears to be a courtroom.

In a later image, the woman’s hat is removed, showing her brown hair with blonde highlights tied up in a bun.

Meanwhile, Moscow City Court has rejected an appeal against detention filed by Mr Gershkovich’s lawyers.

The journalist, who is accused of espionage after being arrested while reporting in Yekaterinburg, will spend at least a year in custody before coming to trial.

Earlier this month in an interview with Tucker Carlson, a US political commentator, Putin hinted that Russia would be willing to release Mr Gershkovich in exchange for Vadim Krasikov, a Russian hitman detained in Germany for the murder of a Chechen fighter in Berlin in 2019.

Lyle’s Golden Syrup attacked by Christians over logo change

Church of England members have attacked Lyle’s Golden Syrup over a rebrand that “eradicates” the Christian messaging in its logo.

The company has replaced the image of a dead lion being swarmed by bees with a more modern depiction of the animal’s face and a single bee, in its first rebrand in almost 150 years.

The product’s dark green tin and golden lion packaging is a reference to the story of Samson killing a lion, and the original logo includes the biblical quotation: “Out of the strong came forth sweetness.”

It is the world’s oldest unchanged brand packaging, and holds a Guinness World Record, having remained almost identical since 1888.

Lyle’s said the branding, created by the product’s founder, Scottish businessman Abraham Lyle, has been “revitalised for the modern UK family” in a move to “refresh the brand’s legacy to appeal to a 21st century audience”.

However, it has angered some traditional Christians who are calling on the company to rethink the decision, saying they feel that there is perhaps no longer “a place for Christians in the UK”.

Tate & Lyle Sugars, which owns Lyle’s Golden Syrup, apologised for the upset caused and said religion played “no part” in the decision to change the branding. 

‘Ditching tradition’

Sam Margrave, a member of the General Synod, the Church of England’s legislative body, said: “Bible stories have appealed to families for millennia.

“There is nothing modern about ditching tradition or sidelining Christian messaging. I enjoy Golden Syrup with my pancakes on Shrove Tuesday every year.

“I am sure the Lyle business doesn’t mind benefiting from sales and Christian branding every Easter, so why do they feel the need to eradicate their connection with their Christian founder’s iconic logo which tells a story that works for every generation? Did they ask anyone if they were offended by Christian messages?

“My Muslim, Jewish and friends of other faiths love that we are a Christian country and have a Christian heritage. Let’s celebrate our Christian stories and history. I hope Lyle will rethink this move. It does lead to the question, is there a place for Christians or Christian messaging in the UK anymore?”

Andrea Williams, chief executive of Christian Concern, said: “The Bible is the source of hope and joy and what inspired the founders of the company to make the best syrup in the world. The signature verse of Tate and Lyle’s Golden Syrup points to the eternal.

“They have traded the enduring appeal of their brand for a momentary fad. It’s not worth it and is actually very sad.”

The Book of Judges details Samson killing a lion with his bare hands before returning to the carcass a few days later to find a swarm of bees had created a hive in its body.

In the story, Samson then took honey from the hive, and fed it to his parents without telling them where he got the honey from.

He later asks guests at his wedding to solve the riddle: “Out of the eater, something to eat; out of the strong, something sweet.”

A version of the riddle was chosen for the logo of Lyle’s Golden Syrup, and has remained on the tins ever since.

The rebrand will take place across the full product range, excluding the classic tin, which will retain the original illustration.

‘Fresh redesign’

James Whiteley, brand director for Lyle’s Golden Syrup, said: “We’re excited to unveil a fresh redesign for the Lyle’s Golden Syrup brand.

“While we’ll continue to honour our original branding with the heritage tin, consumers need to see brands moving with the times and meeting their current needs.

“Our fresh, contemporary design brings Lyle’s into the modern day, appealing to the everyday British household while still feeling nostalgic and authentically Lyle’s.

“We’re confident that the fresh new design will make it easier for consumers to discover Lyle’s as an affordable, everyday treat, while re-establishing the brand as the go-to syrup brand for the modern UK family, featuring the same delicious taste that makes you feel Absolutely Golden.”

Gerald Mason, Senior Vice President of Tate & Lyle Sugars, apologised for the upset caused.

“We are very proud of the history and biblical link to our Lyle’s tin, and have absolutely no intention to change it in any way,” he said.

“Religion played absolutely no part in our decision to try something different on our syrup bottles – a product format where we regularly use different approaches to our brands.

“It makes me sad that we might have unwittingly upset people today, and I want to apologise for that. But please be assured the story of Samson and the tin isn’t going anywhere.”

Trans women in the Armed Forces can live in female-only accommodation

Trans military personnel born as men can live in female-only accommodation, an official government document states.

Concerns have been raised to The Telegraph that the policy risks diluting “safe spaces” for women.

The document, written as part of the JSP 889, the official guidance regarding the recruitment and management of transgender personnel in the Armed Forces, states that the “determining issue” for allocating Single Living Accommodation (SLA), where a single, or unaccompanied person lives, is the “affirmed gender” of the transgender person.

It states that “as soon as the transition process begins the person should be provided with accommodation that is appropriate to their affirmed gender”.

“From the date of transition, the person should also have use of the toilet and changing room facilities appropriate to their affirmed gender. Under no circumstances should a transgender person be expected, after transitioning, to use the facilities of their assigned gender,” it reads.

Sarah Atherton, the MP who oversaw the 2021 report which examined the levels of sexual assault and harassment in the military, said the policy felt like a “knee-jerk reaction”.

“They haven’t thought this through properly,” she said.

“Having done extensive work around women in the Armed Forces, I am fully aware of the extent of sexual abuse that has gone on and continues to go on. Women need to have secure accommodation where they feel safe.”

‘Misuse of power’

A source close to Grant Shapps said the Defence Secretary would be looking at the policy as part of his wide-ranging review into the military’s diversity and inclusion policies after concerns were raised that the Armed Forces were becoming too “woke”.

Defence sources stressed that the majority of SLA for serving personnel consisted of “lockable” rooms with en-suites and that it was “rare” for people of the opposite sex to share washing facilities. They added that in situations where this occurred, they were in the “minority” and in “old” housing blocks, with most accommodation now existing as “single rooms”.

However, serving personnel speaking on condition of anonymity said this was often not the case for the most junior ranks.

One woman serving with the RAF told The Telegraph there were female-only blocks for trainees in the Air Force and they would be concerned if someone affirmed as female was placed in the block.

“Trainees are considered our most vulnerable as they are the youngest, most inexperienced,” she said. “It’s fair to say that people who are in the early stages of their career are potentially being put at risk by not having female-only spaces protected.”

Commenting on the policy, which was published in August last year, Ms Atherton added that she had amassed evidence that found “women need safe spaces because of poor sexual behaviour and misuse of power in the military”.

‘You can tell who are predators’

“This policy is unclear and allows predatory men to misuse the policy to continue this abhorrent behaviour.”

One woman serving with the RAF recently returned from a secondment overseas where she shared washing facilities with men and women.

“Military bases at home are compromised if female spaces are not managed appropriately,” she said.

It is understood that any member of the Armed Forces who feels “uncomfortable” sharing with another person in the military “is able to raise their concerns” which will in turn be considered by the chain of command.

However, one serving member of personnel told The Telegraph that when she previously raised concerns with her chain of command regarding a transgender member of the forces who joined her squadron, her concerns were dismissed. 

Her manager told her not to worry because “it’s not an issue as you can tell who are predators”.

Prince of Wales knew Gaza plea would court controversy – and did it anyway

In 2018, when he became the first member of the Royal family to pay an official visit to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Prince William spoke carefully of his hopes for a “just and lasting peace”.

Six years on, in his biggest, boldest public statement to date, the Prince of Wales has poured the strength of his feelings about the people he met into a striking humanitarian plea for the people of Gaza.

In precise language, he urged the return of Israeli hostages, named Hamas as terrorists, invoked Churchill, lamented the “sheer scale of human suffering” and called outright for an end to the fighting.

In doing so, he waded into the most controversial issue of the day, on the eve of a critical House of Commons vote on calling for an immediate ceasefire.

His intervention was always going to be criticised. The Prince did it anyway.

Having grown up watching his grandmother and his father navigate the line between public duty and public intervention, William weighed up the options and – sources say – decided that the sight of innocent children caught up in conflict was worth the risk of speaking out.

“It was really important to him,” said a source close to the Prince. “This is a personal thing for him. He talks a lot about that trip [in 2018], and meeting young people on both sides.

“He’s willing to use his platform to make interventions on things that he really believes in.”

The Prince did not do so naively.

While Elizabeth II occasionally made her thoughts known in conversation, and King Charles prefers lobbying by letter, Prince William’s written statement left no room for misinterpretation or mishearing.

‘Unusual’ message

Low on platitudes and high on specifics, the future King calls for aid to be let in, hostages released and humanitarian support to Gaza increased.

Those across the political and religious divides immediately found fault; plenty questioned the wisdom of saying anything at all.

Nigel Farage told him to “stick to the Baftas”. Social media users trilled: “William has gone woke!”

Key global headlines were calmer: the New York Times called it a “rare, if measured, public statement”; The Times of Israel wrote of an “unusual” message that “expresses concern”.

Critically, the Prince has received the vocal support of the Government, whose own messaging matches his closely.

The difference in the Prince’s boldness from 2018 to 2024 is clear and a result of his growing confidence in international diplomacy.

He is also well-versed in the relationship between palace and government, and its limitations – royals are not expected to venture into political opinion, let alone ahead of a vote and in an election year.

He was 32 when his grandmother was heard telling a member of the public: “I hope people will think very carefully about the future” on the eve of the Scottish independence referendum and received praise and criticism alike for her perceived influence.

His father was so known for having his own opinions that, when asked on his 70th birthday whether he would continue to meddle as King, was moved to clarify: “I’m not that stupid.”

The Prince of Wales has so far been comparatively inscrutable and, like his mother during her landmine campaigning, would no doubt reject the idea that calling for humanitarian aid was too political.

‘We welcome that intervention’

For some years, he has been surrounded by those who could help him tread that line.

At the time of his 2018 trip, the Prince was advised by Sir David Manning, an eminent former diplomat considered a mentor to the young William in his education in global affairs.

Since the summer, he has been advised by David Hunt, who has 21 years at the Foreign Office behind him including stints in Iraq and Washington DC.

Jean-Christophe Gray, the Prince’s private secretary, who is soon to depart, was also a civil servant and served as the official spokesman for Lord Cameron when he was prime minister. William’s private secretary before him, Simon Case, has moved from palace to Parliament and is now Cabinet Secretary.

Asked about the statement, a spokesman for Downing Street said: “We welcome that intervention. It is important that we speak (with) one voice as a nation.”

The Prince’s team had briefed the Foreign Office about his statement ahead of releasing it, and Number 10 was “aware” of the words in advance.

Each was understood to be “happy with it”, although all sides stopped short of confirming they asked the Prince to say anything in the first place.

“If the Prince of Wales wants to say something, the Prince of Wales says something,” said one source.

“This is incredibly personal for him,” said a palace aide, who cautioned against the idea that the 126-word statement had been focus-grouped by a team of contributors.

It does, however, closely echo the words of the Foreign Secretary, and the Government’s position that “the priority must be an immediate pause in the fighting to get aid in and hostages out, then progress towards a sustainable, permanent ceasefire”.

A Downing Street source said of the statement: “We saw it in advance and we were comfortable with it.”

The timing of the statement, the day before a Commons vote on calling for an immediate ceasefire, also raised questions.

Visit for Red Cross briefing

It was published moments before the Prince arrived at an engagement to hear from the British Red Cross teams on the front line in the region.

There, he told staff his 2018 visit “had a lasting impression on me” and meant he has “always been keeping an eye on what’s going on”. He spoke, it is said, “as a father”.

Kensington Palace stressed that the visit had not been deliberately timed. In fact, they said, it had been rearranged from last month, when the Princess of Wales, who had planned to attend with him, was in hospital for abdominal surgery.

Had the Prince released a statement much earlier, the reaction may have been somewhat different: YouGov polling tracks the public as significantly more likely to support a ceasefire now than in November, in the more immediate aftermath of the Hamas atrocities.

Next week, the Prince will visit a synagogue to hear of the recent rise in anti-Semitism.

“The Prince has followed the region closely since his visit,” said a source close to William. “Since October, that has never been more true.”

In years gone by, the Prince of Wales has spoken privately about wanting to “push the envelope”, navigating the challenge of deciding when, where and how to nudge forward the issues he cares about without compromising his position in public life.

It is impossible to please everyone.

He thought about it, said it, and means it

Eugene Rogan, the professor of Modern Middle Eastern History and Fellow of St Antony’s College at the University of Oxford, said: “Some are bound to criticise him for not mentioning the Israelis held hostage by Hamas in Gaza, in addition to his reference to the Oct 7 attacks.

“Others might have wished his language calling for a ceasefire to be more forceful, such as in calling for an immediate ceasefire.

“But in my view, he managed to avoid anything overtly political which might have crossed the line in a royal statement.”

The statement’s eight short sentences were simple and to the point.

The only rhetorical flourish was a double reference to Winston Churchill: “Even in the darkest hour, we must not succumb to the counsel of despair.”

The first part is a reference to Churchill’s 1940 “finest hour” speech, in which the German invasion was called “the darkest hour in French history”. The second – “counsel of despair” – is a little-known quote from Churchill’s own 1937 paper on whether partition could bring peace to Palestine.

Whatever criticism or praise Prince William’s words inspire, this was not a statement composed on the hoof. He thought about it, said it and means it.

The next question, of whether he will make it a habit, will define his legacy.

Julian Assange too unwell to attend final appeal against US extradition

Julian Assange was too unwell to appear in court on Tuesday on the first day of his final appeal against extradition to the United States, his lawyers said.

Lawyers for the WikiLeaks founder claimed that he was a victim of “state retaliation” by the US which plotted to kidnap or kill him, saying that he was at risk of a “flagrant denial of justice” if he is extradited on espionage charges.

Assange, whose supporters say he could face up to 175 years in jail if he is extradited, had hoped to attend the hearing but did not appear at the High Court because of “reasons of health”.

At the start of the hearing, Edward Fitzgerald KC said: “He is not well today, he is not attending today and I think the court is aware of that”.

Assange is wanted in the US over an alleged conspiracy to obtain and disclose national defence information following WikiLeaks’ publication of hundreds of thousands of leaked documents relating to the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.

The activist spent seven years in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London before he was forcibly removed when his political asylum was revoked in 2019.

He has been remanded in custody at Belmarsh prison in south-east London. In a January 2021 ruling, then-district judge Vanessa Baraitser said that Assange should not be sent to the US, citing a real and “oppressive” risk of suicide, while ruling against the 52-year-old on all other issues.

However, the High Court later ruled that he should be extradited, dismissing claims that his poor mental health meant he might take his own life in a US jail.

‘Example of state retaliation’

Lawyers for Assange are now asking for the go-ahead to challenge her dismissal of other parts of his case against extradition.

Mark Summers KC, representing Assange, said there was “compelling circumstantial evidence of the US’s motivations in bringing this case”.

He said that the district judge heard that the cables obtained by WikiLeaks had revealed “extra-judicial assassination, rendition, torture, dark prisons, killings”, and the evidence had been “relied upon by foreign courts” to pursue war crimes.

“This is a paradigm example of state retaliation for the expression of political opinion,” he told the court. “The district judge did not address it, had she done so, it would have been fatal to her decision.”

In written submissions, Mr Summers and Mr Fitzgerald said that evidence showed the “US was prepared to go to any lengths, including misusing its own criminal justice system” to sustain “impunity for US officials in respect of the torture/war crimes committed in its infamous ‘war on terror’, and to suppress those actors and courts willing and prepared to try to bring those crimes to account.

“Mr Assange was one of those targets.”

Mr Summers said that there was “truly breathtaking” evidence of a plot by the US to kidnap or kill the WikiLeaks founder.

“What the evidence now shows is that the US developed a plan to try to either kill or rendition Mr Assange to the USA,” he said.

Mr Summers added there was evidence of a plan to kidnap or poison Assange in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

“With respect to the district judge, there were red flags everywhere,” he said, adding that the prosecution by the US was launched “to provide a framework” for a kidnap or killing.

“This extraordinary plan to kidnap, rendition, Mr Assange to America, with charges in place simply to provide some legal justification … only fell away when the UK authorities weren’t terribly keen on renditions of the potential for a shoot-out on the streets of London.”

Earlier, Mr Fitzgerald said that Assange is being prosecuted for an “ordinary journalistic practice”.

He told the court: “He is being prosecuted for engaging in ordinary journalistic practice of obtaining and publishing classified information, information that is both true and of obvious and important public interest.”

Mr Fitzgerald said that extraditing Assange would be a “fundamental violation” of a treaty between the UK and the US which said extradition would not be granted for political offences.

The hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice was attended by dozens of journalists and members of the public, with scores of supporters of Assange gathering outside the central London courthouse from 8am.

Addressing the crowd ahead of the hearing, Assange’s wife, Stella, who has previously said his health was so poor that he would not survive extradition, said: “We don’t know what to expect, but you’re here because the world is watching.

“They just cannot get away with this. Julian needs his freedom and we all need the truth.”

US authorities are opposing Assange’s bid for an appeal and have told the court his case is “unarguable” and should not be allowed to proceed to a full hearing.

James Lewis KC, for the US, said in written submissions that Assange’s conduct is “consistently and repeatedly misrepresented” by him in the appeal bid.

The barrister described the amount of classified material provided to Assange as “unprecedented”, adding: “The appellant threatened damage to the strategic and national security interests of the United States and put the safety of individuals at serious risk.”

The hearing before Dame Victoria Sharp and Mr Justice Johnson is due to conclude on Wednesday, with their decision on whether Assange can bring the appeal expected at a later date.

Who is Julian Assange and what is WikiLeaks?

Assange, 52, is the founder of WikiLeaks, a non-profit organisation set up in 2006 to publish classified information from anonymous sources. It claims to be a platform for whistleblowers and to have published more than 10 million files. 

Assange became a skilled hacker during his teenage years and by 1996 – aged 25 – he had pleaded guilty to 24 charges of hacking and related crimes in Australia, being fined $2,100. 

Assange has described WikiLeaks as “a giant library of the world’s most persecuted documents”. 

Where is Julian Assange from?

Assange was born in Townsville, Queensland in 1971, but moved often, living in more than 30 Australian towns and cities throughout his childhood. 

What is Assange and WikiLeaks accused of? 

Assange is facing extradition to the United States on 17 charges related to obtaining and disclosing US defence information and one charge of conspiring with Chelsea Manning to hack a government system. 

He will appear at the High Court in London on Tuesday to make his final appeal against his extradition.

What information did Julian Assange allegedly release?

WikiLeaks has released, among other things, footage from a US military helicopter showing civilians being killed in Baghdad in Iraq, documents relating to the unreported killing of civilians by US military in Afghanistan and a manual for operations at Guantanamo Bay. 

It also shared US State Department diplomatic cables in 2010 and files which documented alleged spying by the US on European leaders, including Angela Merkel. In 2016, WikiLeaks leaked emails from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the campaign manager of Hillary Clinton which damaged Clinton’s run for president. 

Where is he currently being held?

Since April 2019, Assange has been confined in HM Prison Belmarsh, London.

How has he avoided extradition to the US so far?

Assange evaded extradition by taking refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy from 2012 to 2019. At this time, a warrant had been issued for his arrest by Sweden over allegations of sexual assault, which Assange denied.  

However, in 2019, his political asylum status was withdrawn following a disagreement with the Ecuadorian authorities and he was sentenced to 50 weeks in Belmarsh for breach of bail conditions. Then in 2021, a judge ruled that Assange’s detention should continue on the “substantial grounds” that he might abscond from future appeal hearings.

While the Swedish investigation against him has since been dropped, the US government unsealed their own indictments against Assange, and his extradition to the US is currently being contested in the British courts.

What will happen to him if he is extradited? 

If extradited, Assange could face a 175-year prison sentence, according to his lawyers. He has also claimed that he might be tortured.

Assange’s wife has said he will “die” if extradited and his lawyers have promised to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights if his attempt fails this week in the High Court.

Excess deaths last year were two thirds lower than expected

Excess deaths in Britain last year were two thirds lower than previous estimates, new modelling from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) suggests.

The ONS announced on Tuesday that it was updating its figures to account for the growth and ageing of the population.

Originally, the statistics body calculated that there were 31,442 excess deaths in Britain in 2023. But it has now revised the figure down significantly to 10,994 – a drop of 65 per cent.

Last year, figures from the ONS showed that excess deaths were hitting levels not seen since the second Covid wave, with the high numbers blamed on record NHS waiting lists, strikes and patients left untreated during the pandemic.

Although thousands more people did die than was expected, the revised data showed that most of the extra deaths occurred in the first six months of last year, with fewer deaths than usual in the later months.

Previously, figures were calculated based on how deaths compared to the five-year average, without taking into account population changes.

However, the new figures are in contrast to the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) Continuous Mortality Investigation, which puts the excess death numbers at 22,000 when including the ageing population.

The ONS said it was using a different baseline from the IFoA.

Daniel Ayoubkhani, the principal statistician for health at the ONS, said: “Using our new methodology, today’s release shows tragically that there were an estimated 11,000 excess deaths in 2023. This is lower than our previous estimate because our new method accounts for the growth and ageing of the population.

“These are key factors in understanding how many deaths we would expect to see and whether the actual number of deaths is below, or above, this estimate.

“Looking more closely at the last months of 2023, there were actually negative excess deaths, meaning fewer deaths than average being registered.”

The new method has also revised down the number of excess deaths during the first pandemic year, from 84,064 to 76,412. The highest number of excess deaths estimated by the new method over the nine years before the Covid-19 pandemic is 30,858 in 2015.

Working-day effects

The model also now includes trends in mortality, and takes account of working-day effects on death registrations – such as when deaths cannot be registered because of public holidays, causing a lag.

Experts said the change was “long overdue” and warned that failing to take into account population changes had led to a “significant overestimation” of excess deaths.

Dr Jason Oke, senior statistician at the Medical Statistics Group at the University of Oxford, said: “The excess death statistic rose from relative obscurity to prominence during the pandemic, putting it firmly in the public consciousness.

“This, however, also exposed the flaws in the way it had been calculated – using historic averages, taking no account of prevailing trends or changes in the population.

“As a result, excess deaths were overestimated before, during and after the pandemic.”

Sir David Spiegelhalter, emeritus professor of statistics at the University of Cambridge, warned that there was no “correct” method for assessing excess deaths but said the changes were better than the “ad hoc” system in place until now.

“This is world-leading methodology, setting an appropriately high standard for national statistics,” he said.