US Marine gets 10 years for abusing Muslim recruits

In this Oct., 31, 2017 photo, US Marine Gunnery Sgt. Joseph A. Felix, his wife, and his lawyers exit a courtroom after testimony at Camp Lejeune, N.C. A Marine Corps jury on Nov. 10, is deciding whether Felix should be sentenced to military prison time for choking, punching and otherwise tormenting recruits, especially Muslims, one of whom eventually hurled himself to his death down a stairwell. (AP)
Updated 12 November 2017
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US Marine gets 10 years for abusing Muslim recruits

WASHINGTON: A US Marine Corps drill instructor was sentenced Friday to 10 years in prison for abusing more than a dozen Muslim recruits, one of whom died in 2016, US media reported.
Gunnery Sergeant Joseph Felix was convicted a day earlier of maltreatment of the recruits during their basic training at the Parris Island, South Carolina base.
A jury of eight fellow servicemen and women considered Felix, an Iraq war veteran, the most to blame of six instructors who ordered and participated in extreme hazing of the recruits, taunting them as terrorists.
Two of them were forced into industrial-sized clothes dryers and in one case the machine was turned on when they did not renounce their faith.
One of the recruits, Raheel Siddiqui died after a plunge over a third-story railing in March 2016 after enduring days of hazing worse than the normal high-pressure treatment given recruits.
The Marines called his death a suicide. In October, Siddiqui’s family sued the Marines for $100 million, saying he was driven by an unnamed superior through a door and onto a balcony where he fell to the ground below.
The sentence decided Friday, which also includes a dishonorable discharge, was harsher than the seven years in prison that prosecutors had recommended.
The case will automatically go to appeal per military regulations for judgments that involve lengthy prison sentences and dishonorable discharges.


US charges against Russian Butina ‘unfounded’

Updated 14 December 2018
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US charges against Russian Butina ‘unfounded’

  • The Russian foreign minster said he had “reasons to believe” Butina had been kept in conditions designed to break her will and lead her to enter a false guilty plea
  • Butina pleaded guilty to conspiracy to not register as an agent of a foreign government, a charge often used against foreign spies

MOSCOW: The Kremlin on Friday rejected as unfounded the US case against Russian national Maria Butina, who has pleaded guilty to acting as an illegal foreign agent in the United States.
“We consider the accusations against her as absolutely unfounded,” presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he had “reasons to believe” the Russian had been kept in conditions designed to break her will and lead her to enter a false guilty plea.
“As far as I understand, this plea bargain — the likes of which are common in the US — is part of a deal to get free and return home as soon as possible,” Lavrov said in comments reported by agencies.
Butina — the first Russian convicted in the sprawl of cases arising from Moscow’s interference in the 2016 presidential election — faces likely deportation after a potential sentence.
Prosecutors said she launched a plan in 2015 to develop ties with the Republican Party with the aim of influencing US foreign policy.
The plot was allegedly guided and financed in part by Alexander Torshin, an ally of President Vladimir Putin who was deputy governor of the Russian central bank until his retirement on November 30.
Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier in the week said he had asked Russian security services who Butina was.
“Nobody had heard anything about her. The only thing was that she did some work in the upper house of parliament for a while,” Putin said.
Butina was arrested in July this year and became a minor cause celebre in Russia, with the foreign ministry putting her picture at the top of their Twitter account with the hashtag “#FreeMariaButina.”
She pleaded guilty to conspiracy to not register as an agent of a foreign government, a charge often used against foreign spies. But there was no evidence presented that she worked for any of Moscow’s espionage agencies.
The conspiracy charge, and prosecutors’ vouching for her cooperation in a broader investigation, suggested others could be charged in relation to her case.
She is due to remain in US custody until her sentencing in February or later.