UK approves extradition of WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange to US on spying charges

Update UK approves extradition of WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange to US on spying charges
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Updated 18 June 2022

UK approves extradition of WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange to US on spying charges

UK approves extradition of WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange to US on spying charges

LONDON: The British government has ordered the extradition of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the United States to face spying charges. WikiLeaks said it would appeal.
Home Secretary Priti Patel signed the extradition order on Friday, her department said. It follows a British court ruling in April that Assange could be sent to the US over WikiLeaks’ publication of a huge trove of classified documents more than a decade ago.
The Home Office said in a statement that “the UK courts have not found that it would be oppressive, unjust or an abuse of process to extradite Mr. Assange.”
“Nor have they found that extradition would be incompatible with his human rights, including his right to a fair trial and to freedom of expression, and that whilst in the US he will be treated appropriately, including in relation to his health.”
The decision is a big moment in Assange’s years-long battle to avoid facing trial in the US — though not necessarily the end of the tale. Assange has 14 days to appeal.
The US has asked British authorities to extradite Assange so he can stand trial on 17 charges of espionage and one charge of computer misuse. American prosecutors say Assange unlawfully helped U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning steal classified diplomatic cables and military files that WikiLeaks later published, putting lives at risk.
“Today is not the end of the fight. It is only the beginning of a new legal battle,” said Assange's wife, Stella Assange. She said the UK decision marked “a dark day for press freedom and for British democracy.”
“Julian did nothing wrong,” she said. “He has committed no crime and is not a criminal. He is a journalist and a publisher, and he is being punished for doing his job.”
A British judge approved the extradition in April, leaving the final decision to the government. The ruling came after a legal battle that went all the way to the UK Supreme Court.
Journalism organizations and human rights groups have called on Britain to refuse the extradition request.
Supporters and lawyers for Assange, 50, argue that he was acting as a journalist and is entitled to First Amendment protections of freedom of speech for publishing documents that exposed US military wrongdoing in Iraq and Afghanistan. They argue that his case is politically motivated.
Assange’s lawyers say he could face up to 175 years in jail if he is convicted in the US, though American authorities have said any sentence is likely to be much lower than that.
Assange has been held at Britain’s high-security Belmarsh Prison in London since 2019, when he was arrested for skipping bail during a separate legal battle. Before that, he spent seven years inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London to avoid extradition to Sweden to face allegations of rape and sexual assault.
Sweden dropped the sex crimes investigations in November 2019 because so much time had elapsed.


Google Doodle celebrates female Emirati poet Ousha Al Suwaidi

Google Doodle celebrates female Emirati poet Ousha Al Suwaidi
Updated 40 sec ago

Google Doodle celebrates female Emirati poet Ousha Al Suwaidi

Google Doodle celebrates female Emirati poet Ousha Al Suwaidi

DUBAI: Google Doodle celebrated on Monday Emirati poet Ousha Al Suwaidi, who inspired female poets across the region, with an illustration featuring her in traditional attire, including a face covering. 

Nicknamed ‘Fatat Al Khaleej’ (The Girl of the Gulf), Al Suwaidi was known for writing Nabati poems, or traditional poetry originating within the nomadic Bedouins of the Arabian Peninsula. 

Al Suwaidi was born on Jan. 1, 1920 in Al Ain. When she was 15, she rose to fame nationally in what was commonly a male-dominated field of literature.

Many of her poems were inspired by the Arabian Gulf and desert landscapes, as well as her own experiences in the UAE, touching on themes such as love, wisdom, patriotism, and nostalgia.

She is regarded as one of the finest Arabic Nabati poets with many of her poems sung by popular Emirati and Arab artists.

On this day in 2011, a prestigious event recognized her contributions to literature and many of Al Suwaidi’s poetry and poems written in her honor were recited at the venue.  

The poetry community in the UAE also established an annual award for female Emirati poets in Ousha Al Suwaidi’s name in 2011. A library at the Emirates International School, and a section of the Women's Museum in Dubai, was also dedicated in her honor, according to a website citing her biography.  

Al Suwaidi died in 2018, she was 98.


BBC says Chinese police assaulted journalist covering protest

BBC says Chinese police assaulted journalist covering protest
Updated 28 November 2022

BBC says Chinese police assaulted journalist covering protest

BBC says Chinese police assaulted journalist covering protest
  • The BBC said it had not been given a credible official explanation for its journalist’s detention

LONDON: The BBC said on Sunday that Chinese police assaulted and detained one of its journalists covering a protest in Shanghai, before later releasing him after several hours.
“The BBC is extremely concerned about the treatment of our journalist Ed Lawrence, who was arrested and handcuffed while covering the protests in Shanghai,” a spokesperson for the British public service broadcaster said in a statement.
“He was held for several hours before being released. During his arrest, he was beaten and kicked by the police. This happened while he was working as an accredited journalist,” the spokesperson added.
The BBC said it had not been given a credible official explanation for its journalist’s detention.

 


Elon Musk: Twitter user signups at all-time high

Elon Musk: Twitter user signups at all-time high
Updated 27 November 2022

Elon Musk: Twitter user signups at all-time high

Elon Musk: Twitter user signups at all-time high
  • Signups were averaging over two million per day in the last seven days as of Nov. 16
  • Buying Twitter speeds up Elon Musk’s ambition to create an ‘everything app’ called X

Twitter chiefeExecutive Elon Musk says new user signups to the social media platform are at an “all-time high,” as he struggles with a mass exodus of advertisers and users fleeing to other platforms over concerns about verification and hate speech.
Signups were averaging over two million per day in the last seven days as of Nov. 16, up 66 percent compared to the same week in 2021, Musk said in a tweet late on Saturday.
He also said that user active minutes were at a record high, averaging nearly 8 billion active minutes per day in the last seven days as of Nov. 15, an increase of 30 percent in comparison to the same week last year.
Hate speech impersonations decreased as of Nov. 13 compared to October of last year.
Reported impersonations on the platform spiked earlier this month, before and in wake of the Twitter Blue launch, according to Musk.
Musk, who also runs rocket company SpaceX, brain-chip startup Neuralink and tunneling firm the Boring Company, has said that buying Twitter would speed up his ambition to create an “everything app” called X.
Musk’s “Twitter 2.0 The Everything App” will have features like encrypted direct messages (DMs), longform tweets and payments, according to the tweet.
In another tweet early on Sunday, Musk said he sees a “path to Twitter exceeding a billion monthly users in 12 to 18 months.”
Advertisers on Twitter, including big companies such as General Motors, Mondelez International, Volkswagen AG, have paused advertising on the platform, as they grapple with the new boss.
Musk has said that Twitter was experiencing a “massive drop in revenue” from the advertiser retreat, blaming a coalition of civil rights groups that has been pressing the platform’s top advertisers to take action if he did not protect content moderation.
Activists are urging Twitter’s advertisers to issue statements about pulling their ads off the social media platform after Musk lifted the ban on tweets by former US president Donald Trump.
Hundreds of Twitter employees are believed to have quit the beleaguered company, following an ultimatum by Musk that staffers sign up for “long hours at high intensity,” or leave.
The company earlier in November laid off half its workforce, with teams responsible for communications, content curation, human rights and machine learning ethics being gutted, as well as some product and engineering teams.


Iran’s Fars news hit by cyberattack

Iran’s Fars news hit by cyberattack
Updated 26 November 2022

Iran’s Fars news hit by cyberattack

Iran’s Fars news hit by cyberattack
  • Hacker group appears to have obtained staff personal information and government data

LONDON: Iran’s state media outlet Fars was hit by a cyberattack, the agency reported on Saturday.

The incident seems to be part of a larger operation aimed at discrediting the outlet, which is managed by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and exposing sensitive government information.

Fars said that its website had been disrupted late on Friday by a “complex hacking and cyberattack operation.”

“Removing possible bugs may cause problems for some agency services for a few days,” it said in a statement posted on its Telegram channel.

“Cyberattacks against Fars news agency are carried out almost daily from different countries, including the occupied territories (Israel),” it added.

Fars has been heavily criticized for what critics say is its distorted reporting of recent protests that have swept Iran since the death of Mahsa Amini in mid-September.

The 22-year-old was arrested for an alleged breach of the country’s dress code for women and died while in the custody of the country’s morality police.

Hackers appear to have targeted the Twitter account of one of Fars’ managers and published a video on his profile.

The hacker group Black Reward on Friday claimed to have breached the agency’s database, and said it had obtained confidential bulletins and directives sent by the news agency to the office of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

Iran has been targeted by several anonymous hacker groups in recent years.

In October, Black Reward published documents from Iran’s nuclear program after the government ignored hackers’ demands to release all political prisoners and protesters arrested during recent demonstrations.

In past weeks, the group has also hacked the emails of state-affiliated press and TV managers and employees, obtaining personal information.


Israeli extremists harass France24 reporter during live coverage

Israeli extremists harass France24 reporter during live coverage
Updated 26 November 2022

Israeli extremists harass France24 reporter during live coverage

Israeli extremists harass France24 reporter during live coverage
  • Video shows Palestinian Laila Odeh surrounded by people chanting anti-Arab slogans

LONDON: France24 correspondent Laila Odeh was harassed and verbally attacked by Israeli extremists as she spoke Arabic during live coverage from West Jerusalem on Wednesday.
A video of the incident shows the Palestinian journalist being heckled while covering the recent bomb attacks that took place in West Jerusalem.
The reporter was broadcasting live from Givat Shaul, one of the blast sites, when about 30 people tried to interrupt the live coverage.
In the video, Odeh is seen exchanging some words with a group of young people before they start surrounding the crew, stepping in front of the camera to block the broadcast.
“Excuse me, we’re live,” she said, to which one of the people replied: “I don’t care.” Odeh added: “You’re annoying me. Move away from here.”

 

 

Then the video shows her engaging in a verbal exchange before people around her started chanting anti-Arab slogans, forcing Odeh to cut the broadcast.
Some people in the group shouted “Death to Arabs”, “Arabs go to Russia” and “This is an Arab explosion.”
According to reports published by France24 following the incident, after the live broadcast people shouted to Odeh to “go to Gaza,” continued their insults and increased their aggressive behavior. France24 also reported that some people punched its cameraman and broke the camera tripod.
This is not the first time Odeh has been targeted by Israeli extremists. She was hit on the head and verbally abused while covering the Israeli nationalist Flag March in Jerusalem in May.
On Wednesday, Israeli police said bombs were detonated at two bus stops in West Jerusalem’s Givat Shaul and Ramot junctions, killing one Israeli and injuring 14 people, three of them seriously.
While no one has yet claimed responsibility for the attacks, Israeli authorities imposed a broadcast ban on the investigation.