Key Congressional Leaders: Replace Scandal Plagued WIPO Director

November 21, 2013
Press Release

Senior bipartisan Congressional leaders signaled their alarm today to the Obama Administration over the widening expose of reports of scandal and misconduct by Francis Gurry, director-general of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).  In a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, the lawmakers warned "the interests of the United States and its large community of innovators cannot be served well with Mr. Gurry continuing as Director General of WIPO."  The lawmakers urged the Obama administration "to identify and support an alternate candidate to lead WIPO."   
 
In the letter, the lawmakers noted that under Gurry's tenure "WIPO has substantially deteriorated." News reports and independent watchdog groups have detailed WIPO Director Gurry's abuse of office, including a secretive technology transfer program with North Korea and Iran, dubious deals with China and Russia, and now allege Gurry participated in a scheme to illegally acquire DNA samples of WIPO employees (click here for an article by the Tribune de Geneve. You can also click here for a translated version of the original article in English)
 
The letter to Secretary Kerry can be viewed by clicking here.  The following is the text of the letter to Secretary Kerry signed by Reps. Ed Royce (R-CA), Eliot Engel (D-NY), John Conyers (D-MI), Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), Mike McCaul (R-TX), Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Frank Wolf (R-VA), Mike Thompson (D-CA), Gene Green (D-TX), Henry Cuellar (D-TX):
 
November 21, 2013

The Honorable John Kerry
Secretary, U.S. Department of State
Washington, DC 20520
 
Dear Secretary Kerry,
 
We are writing to follow up regarding the concerns expressed to you in September about the upcoming election for Director General at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the candidacy of incumbent Director General, Francis Gurry.  
 
As you may recall, concerns were expressed following reports that Mr. Gurry was running a secret program to ship high-end computers and other electronic gear to North Korea and Iran. When called to account, he claimed that U.S. law did not constrain him, and he refused to cooperate with an investigation by the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
 
Since the time of that letter, the situation at WIPO has substantially deteriorated. As you know, the recent annual meeting of Member States collapsed due to the revelation of secret agreements made by Gurry to open satellite WIPO offices in China and Russia – we understand that he even proposed opening an office in Tehran.
 
But even more disturbing, we understand Gurry is involved in a scheme to illegally acquire DNA samples of WIPO employees in a failed effort to develop evidence to support a personal complaint that he had filed with the Swiss authorities. There is also concern that he has been working since to suppress this information and to prevent any independent investigation of it.
 
We appreciate the State Department's early November response indicating that the Administration is closely monitoring the WIPO election process. However, we hope you will agree that this evidence of criminal wrongdoing puts the question of his leadership in a new context. Clearly, the interests of the United States and its large community of innovators cannot be served well with Mr. Gurry continuing as Director General of WIPO. We again urge the Administration to work diligently to identify and support an alternate candidate to lead WIPO.

Sincerely,

Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA)
Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY)
Rep. John Conyers (D-MI)
Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI)
Rep. Mike McCaul (R-TX)
Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA)
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA)
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL)
Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA)
Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA)
Rep. Gene Green (D-TX)
Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX)

# # #