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Bahrain revokes citizenship of 115 people in mass trial
Prosecutors in Bahrain said a court revoked the citizenship of 115 people in a mass trial amid a years-long crackdown on all dissent in the island kingdom.
Prosecutors said in a statement Tuesday the decision came in a trial targeting members of a suspected terror group in the small island nation, AP wrote.
The statement said 53 defendants received life sentences, while dozens of others faced prison time. It said 23 defendants were acquitted.
Bahraini officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment for more information.
Thousands of anti-regime protesters have held demonstrations in Bahrain on an almost daily basis ever since a popular uprising began in the country in mid-February 2011.
They are demanding that the Al Khalifa regime relinquish power and allow a just system representing all Bahrainis to be established.
Manama has gone to great lengths to clamp down on any sign of dissent. On March 14, 2011, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were deployed to assist Bahrain in its crackdown.
Scores of people have lost their lives and hundreds of others sustained injuries or got arrested as a result of the crackdown.
On March 5, 2017, Bahrain’s Parliament approved the trial of civilians at military tribunals in a measure blasted by human rights campaigners as being tantamount to imposition of an undeclared martial law countrywide. Bahraini monarch King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa ratified the constitutional amendment on April 3 last year.
Bahrain is home to the US Navy’s 5th Fleet and a new British naval base.
Malaysia’s 92-year-old PM says he’ll stay in office for 1-2 years
New Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Tuesday he will remain in office for one or two years and that Anwar Ibrahim, the jailed reformist he had vowed would replace him, will be released on Wednesday.
Mahathir, 92, said he thought that “in a short while” the government could have a case against his predecessor, Najib Razak, who has been dogged by a multibillion-dollar scandal at state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), Reuters reported.
A four-party alliance driven by Mahathir and Anwar won the general election last week, ousting the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition for the first time in the history of the Southeast Asian nation. Mahathir was sworn in as prime minister on Thursday, making him the world’s oldest democratically elected leader.
In “an initial stage, maybe lasting one or two years, I will be the prime minister”, Mahathir said, speaking by live video link from Kuala Lumpur to The Wall Street Journal CEO Council meeting in Tokyo.
“I will play a role in the background even when I step down.”
The pardons board in Malaysia’s capital will meet today to discuss Anwar’s release and Mahathir said he would be released the same day.
Anwar, 70, is serving a second five-year jail term for sodomy. He and his supporters have said the charges are politically motivated.
A royal pardon would reverse Anwar’s conviction and make him eligible to actively participate in politics.
He has been in hospital for a few months recovering from a shoulder operation.
Turkey’s pro-Kurdish opposition seeks release of jailed presidential candidate
Turkey’s pro-Kurdish opposition applied on Tuesday for its jailed presidential candidate to be released before next month’s snap election, saying the detention of Selahattin Demirtas jeopardized voter freedom.
This month, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) nominated Demirtas, who has been in prison for about 17 months on security charges and faces a jail sentence of up to 142 years if convicted, as its candidate in the June election, Reuters wrote.
Turkey’s High Electoral Board has approved his candidacy and Demirtas is running his presidential campaign from behind bars.
The HDP said it had filed an appeal for the release of Demirtas, the party’s former leader, saying the imprisonment of a candidate violated electoral law and jeopardized voter freedom.
Demirtas, a former human rights lawyer, has expanded HDP’s support beyond its traditional Kurdish base by appealing to secular, left-leaning Turks. He has also won support from some other opposition candidates, such as nationalist Meral Aksener.
“He is not someone who has been convicted,” Aksener, the head of the Iyi (Good) Party, told reporters. “Let’s say he is freed three months after elections, how will Turkey explain the competitive inequality during the campaigning period then?”
Her comments were notable as nationalists and pro-Kurdish politicians rarely find common ground in Turkey.
The presidential candidate from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), Muharrem Ince, has also called for the release of Demirtas.
The HDP commands only about 10 to 12 percent of support from the electorate, so Erdogan faces a bigger challenge from Aksener and Ince in the polls.
Aksener, a former interior minister, founded her Iyi Party after splitting with the nationalist MHP party, which backs Erdogan.
This election will herald the switch to a powerful executive presidency narrowly approved in a referendum last year.
Aksener said that if the anti-Erdogan alliance were to obtain a majority in parliament, it would immediately move to revert to a parliamentary system, taking necessary constitutional changes to a referendum as soon as possible.
Polls have indicated that a first round victory for Erdogan is unlikely, despite very limited media coverage for opposition candidates, raising prospects of a second round vote between the top two candidates from the previous round.
Turkish media is saturated with coverage of Erdogan and his ministers, with the president’s daily routine of two or three speeches being broadcast on all major channels, while opposition parties receive little to no coverage.
US diplomat involved in fatal traffic accident leaves Pakistan
Pakistan allowed a US diplomat involved in a fatal traffic accident to leave the country, an official said Tuesday, following a weeks-long standoff and street protests over the incident.
The diplomat — described as the defense attaché in an earlier report — departed Islamabad late Monday, a senior Pakistani government official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
“The US diplomat has been allowed to return to the US in light of the High Court’s decision that he had diplomatic immunity,” the official said.
A US Embassy spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.
A sports utility vehicle in which the diplomat was travelling hit a motorcyclist and his passenger at an intersection in Islamabad last month.
Atiq Baig, 22, died of head injuries while his cousin, who was the passenger, was injured.
Weeks later, a second accident involving a US diplomat colliding with a motorcyclist also made headlines in the country but only resulted in minor injuries.
Tensions are simmering between Islamabad and Washington as the US pushes Pakistan to crack down on safe havens it allegedly provides for militants.
In January, the White House suspended nearly two billion dollars in funding in an attempt to force Pakistan to halt its alleged support for the Afghan Taliban.
Pakistan has long denied the accusation.
In the wake of the fatal collision, the Pakistani media drew repeated comparisons with the fatal shooting of two men by CIA contractor Raymond Davis in the eastern city of Lahore in January 2011.
After months of negotiations, a Pakistani court eventually freed Davis following the payment of $2 million to the families of the dead men.
Burundians on Thursday will vote in a referendum on sweeping constitutional reforms that would shore up the power of President Pierre Nkurunziza and enable him to rule until 2034.
UK lawmakers: Facebook has not fully answered questions on data privacy
Facebook has failed to fully answer 39 questions from British lawmakers examining data privacy and fake news, a parliamentary committee said on Tuesday, adding that it would ask the social media giant once again for the missing details.
The committee had put additional questions to Facebook after it said that the firm’s chief technology officer Mike Schroepfer had not addressed all its concerns during a parliamentary hearing last month, Reuters wrote.
Facebook UK’s head of public policy, Rebecca Stimson, gave 39 answers to the extra questions in a letter published by the committee. However, its head said that they lacked the detail they were looking for.
“It is disappointing that a company with the resources of Facebook chooses not to provide a sufficient level of detail and transparency on various points,” Damian Collins, chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, said in a statement.
As part of its inquiry, the committee has been investigating allegations of the improper use of data for 87 million Facebook users by Cambridge Analytica, which was hired by President Donald Trump’s 2016 US election campaign.
Collins said that Cambridge Analytica was one of the areas where Facebook’s response had been insufficiently detailed.
In her letter, Stimson said that Facebook did not pass user information to Cambridge Analytica, although it did provide tools to a researcher who appeared to have shared the data with the consultancy.
China accuses EU of taking WTO back to ‘law of jungle’
China accused the European Union on Tuesday of risking a return to the “law of the jungle,” telling a dispute hearing at the World Trade Organization that it was astonished by what it called the EU’s disregard for the WTO’s rulebook.
China’s statement came during a major trade dispute in which Beijing is trying to force the United States and the EU to treat China like any other “market economy,” rather than claiming it unfairly subsidizes its exports on a large scale.
The EU’s argument that China distorted its markets could equally be applied to the 28-nation bloc’s Common Agricultural Policy or US corn prices, the Chinese statement said.
Offices of Russian media outlets raided in Ukrainian capital
Ukrainian security agencies raided at least two offices of Russian media outlets in the Ukrainian capital Kiev, media outlets said Tuesday.
Russian RIA Novosti news agency said its office in Kiev had been raided and that its bureau chief had been detained for questioning, according to AP.
The agency said Ukrainian security officers stormed its office, and that it has been unable to get in touch with its correspondents there since.
Another outlet, RT, said it cannot contact its staff in Kiev after security officers raided the building. RT’s editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan said on Twitter that its office phones in Kiev appeared to be blocked and that its Ukrainian website is down.
The raids were later confirmed by Ukrainian security agency, SBU, which said in a statement that it is investigating “a network of media outlets” controlled by the Russian government that are “used as tools in a hybrid war against Ukraine.”
Relations between Moscow and Kiev soured in 2014 when people in the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea voted for reunification with the Russian Federation in a referendum.
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