Sessions vows quick decision on possible Clinton prosecutor

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions testifies before a House Judiciary Committee hearing on oversight of the Justice Department in Washington on Tuesday. (Reuters)
Updated 15 November 2017
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Sessions vows quick decision on possible Clinton prosecutor

WASHINGTON: US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said on Tuesday that the Justice Department would work quickly to decide whether to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Hillary Clinton, President Donald Trump’s election rival.
Sessions’ comments indicated that Republicans were seeking to mount a counter-offensive to the probe into Russian election meddling — and whether or not Trump’s campaign colluded with Moscow to sway the 2016 contest.
The Justice Department sent political shockwaves across Washington late on Monday when it revealed it was evaluating the possibility of naming a special counsel to probe the foundation of former President Bill Clinton and its ties to firms involved in a deal that sold US uranium rights to a Russian state company.
The letter also said it was reviewing the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) handling last year of a probe into Hillary Clinton’s use of a personal server for official and in some cases classified emails, in breach of government rules, while she was secretary of state.
In the year since his election win, Trump has repeatedly suggested that the Justice Department should investigate allegations against the Clintons.
Sessions promised the committee that his department would move quickly to decide whether to take action on the cases, including appointing a special prosecutor.
“Do I have your assurance that these matters will proceed fairly and expeditiously?” committee chairman Robert Goodlatte asked him.
“Yes, you can, Mr. Chairman, and you can be sure that they will be done without political influence and they will be done correctly and properly.”
Democrats said any such action would represent an unacceptable politicization of the country’s justice system.
“If the AG bends to pressure from President Trump and his allies, and appoints a special counsel to investigate Trump’s vanquished rival, it could spell the end of the DOJ as an independent institution,” Democratic Representative Adam Schiff said on Twitter.
In an appearance before the House Judiciary Committee that at times became contentious, Sessions walked back earlier testimony made under oath that he had no knowledge of contacts between Trump’s campaign and Russia.
Recent court documents and testimony revealed fresh information on relations last year between Russian officials and Trump’s foreign policy advisory team, which was led by Sessions.
He denied lying in past Capitol Hill hearings, but told lawmakers he had forgotten about a meeting in March 2016 with Trump, then a presidential candidate, and his foreign policy advisers at which such contacts were discussed.
“I do now recall the March 2016 meeting at Trump Hotel that Mr. (George) Papadopoulos attended, but I have no clear recollection of the details of what he said during that meeting,” Sessions testified.
“After reading his account, and to the best of my recollection, I believe that I wanted to make clear to him that he was not authorized to represent the campaign with the Russian government, or any other foreign government, for that matter.”
Papadopoulos has pleaded guilty to a charge of lying to the FBI in the matter, in a deal that made clear he is assisting independent special prosecutor Robert Mueller, who is leading the Russian election meddling probe.
Sessions adamantly insisted that he was not changing his previous testimony.
“My answers have never changed. I have always told the truth,” he said.
“I will not accept and reject accusations that I have ever lied under oath. That is a lie.”
Separately, Sessions slammed leaks of classified information that he said had reached “epidemic proportions,” and confirmed the existence of 27 probes into such leaks.
“It cannot be allowed to continue and we will do our best effort to ensure it does not continue,” the attorney general said.
Trump has complained often and bitterly about leaks of sensitive information since he came to power, notably related to the probe being led by Mueller.


"We are happy to have our son back"

Updated 18 December 2018
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"We are happy to have our son back"

  • Parents of Indian national released from Peshawar jail rejoice
  • Detained for alleged espionage, Ansari had reportedly entered Pakistan from Kabul to meet a girl he had befriended online

NEW DELHI: After spending six years in a Pakistani jail on charges of alleged espionage, Indian national Hamid Ansari finally saw the light of day after being released by Islamabad on Tuesday.

In search of a better livelihood, Ansari had reportedly left his hometown of Mumbai in India to look for a job in Afghanistan.

In 2012, however, he allegedly entered Kohat, in Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, to meet a girl he had befriended on social media.

Pakistan, however, said that Ansari, an engineer, was an Indian spy who had illegally entered the country while accusing him of being involved in anti-state crimes and forgery, prior to sentencing him to six years in jail.

Since 2015, Ansari had been lodged in a jail in Peshawar where he ended his prison term last week.

“We are happy that we'd be able to see our son again,” an emotional Nehal Ahmad Ansari, his father, told Arab News.

His mother, Fauzia Ansari, added that Ansari's release was "an end of a painful period in our life".

Speaking to reporters, she said: "It’s a new birth for Hamid. He will begin his new life. We will support him for his rehabilitation, good health and better future.”

Nehal, on his part, thanked the government of India and Pakistan "for every effort" made in helping repatriate his son.

Ansari's entire family, along with a large number of peace activists, were present at the Wagah border to receive him. 

Raveesh Kumar, spokesperson of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs expressed “great relief, especially for the family members, that six years of incarceration of the Indian civilian in Pakistan jail is coming to an end.”

In a press statement released on Monday, Kumar asked “Pakistan to take action to also end the misery of other Indian nationals and fishermen whose nationality has been confirmed and who have completed their sentences, but continue to languish in Pakistan jails.”