US Senate panel leaders: no evidence to Trump claim of Obama wiretap

This file photo taken on January 10, 2017 shows US Senators Mark Warner (L) and Richard Burr talking before a Senate Armed Services Committe hearing on Russian Intelligence Activities in Washington, DC.(AFP / Tasos Katopodis)
Updated 16 March 2017
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US Senate panel leaders: no evidence to Trump claim of Obama wiretap

WASHINGTON: The Republican and Democratic leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee said on Thursday they saw no evidence to support President Donald Trump’s claim that the Obama administration tapped his phones during the 2016 presidential campaign.
“Based on the information available to us, we see no indications that Trump Tower was the subject of surveillance by any element of the United States government either before or after Election Day 2016,” Republican Chairman Richard Burr and Senator Mark Warner, the committee’s Democratic vice chairman, said in a statement.
Trump, a Republican, made the accusation in a series of early morning posts on Twitter on March 4, six weeks after he took over the presidency from Democrat Barack Obama and amid rising scrutiny of his campaign’s ties to Russia.
The top Republican in Congress, House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, on Thursday added his voice to those rejecting Trump’s contention.
“The point is, the intelligence committees in their continuing, widening, ongoing investigation of all things Russia, got to the bottom — at least so far — with respect to our intelligence community that — that no such wiretap existed,” Ryan told reporters.
Trump accused Obama of wiretapping him during the late stages of the campaign, but provided no evidence. Obama said through a spokesman that it was “simply false.”
“How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!,” Trump wrote.
At least four congressional committees added the startling accusation in their investigations of possible Russian meddling in the election campaign and Russian ties to Trump and his associates.
On Wednesday, House of Representatives Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, a Republican, and top Democrat Adam Schiff told reporters they had seen no evidence that Trump Tower was tapped and said they would ask Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey about the issue during a public hearing on Monday.
Ryan told reporters he received the same intelligence briefing as Nunes and Schiff.
Trump appeared to back away from his accusation of wiretapping in a Fox News interview on Wednesday night.
“But wiretap covers a lot of different things. I think you’re going to find some very interesting items coming to the forefront over the next two weeks,” Trump said.


North Korea road accident causes ‘heavy casualties’: China

Updated 23 April 2018
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North Korea road accident causes ‘heavy casualties’: China

  • The vast majority of foreign tourists to North Korea are Chinese, with the Cold War-era allies sharing a long land border and operating flights between the two countries
  • The accident occurred in North Hwanghae province, the foreign ministry said

BEIJING: A road accident in North Korea has caused “heavy casualties” among Chinese tourists, the foreign ministry in Beijing said on Monday.
The ministry provided few details but China’s state broadcaster CGTN earlier tweeted that more than 30 people died when a tour bus fell from a bridge in North Korea. The tweet was later deleted.
China was informed about the accident on Sunday night, and its embassy personnel in Pyongyang rushed to the scene and are working to manage the situation, the foreign ministry statement said.
The vast majority of foreign tourists to North Korea are Chinese, with the Cold War-era allies sharing a long land border and operating flights between the two countries.
Western visitors to the North once averaged around 5,000 a year, but numbers have been hit recently by a US travel ban — Americans accounted for around 20 percent of the market — and official warnings from other countries.
Tens of thousands of Chinese tourists are believed to visit the North every year, with many crossing via train through the Chinese border city of Dandong. For some, North Korea provides a window into what Communist China may have looked like decades ago.
Chinese tourism to the North has continued even though Beijing has enforced a slew of United Nations sanctions over Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program.
The accident occurred in North Hwanghae province, the foreign ministry said.
The province lies south of the capital and stretches to the border with the South, including the city of Kaesong, an ancient Korean capital with historical sites.
More recently, the area hosted a manufacturing complex operated with South Korea.
The tour group was traveling by bus from Kaesong to Pyongyang when the accident happened, according to the independent Seoul-based website NK News, which cited an unnamed source.
State broadcaster CCTV showed images of a large overturned vehicle with light rain falling on rescue vehicles and doctors attending to a patient in its news broadcast of the incident.
North Korean roads are largely poor and potholed, and in many areas they are dirt rather than tarmac.
Bridges are sometimes out of commission, requiring rivers to be forded or vehicles to take detours.
But the route from Pyongyang to Kaesong, where the accident reportedly happened, is one of the best in the country.
It runs north-south from Sinuiju on the Chinese border to the Demilitarized Zone on the border with the South, but nonetheless has little traffic, like all North Korean highways.
Tank traps have been installed along it in many locations toward the frontier — sets of high concrete columns on either side of the road that can easily be blown up to create an obstruction for invading armor.
China’s foreign ministry said it was still verifying details of the situation.
The ministry said it activated an emergency mechanism Sunday night and is “sparing no efforts” to handle the situation, the statement said.