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In brief: Swedes revoke Assange warrant

Sun., Aug. 22, 2010

Stockholm, Sweden – Swedish authorities revoked a short-lived arrest warrant for the founder of WikiLeaks on Saturday, saying a rape accusation against him lacked substance.

Julian Assange, who was believed to be in Sweden, remained under suspicion of a lesser crime of molestation in a separate case, prosecutors said.

The nomadic 39-year-old Australian dismissed the allegations in a statement on WikiLeaks’ Twitter page, saying “the charges are without basis and their issue at this moment is deeply disturbing.”

WikiLeaks is preparing to release a fresh batch of classified U.S. documents from the Afghan war, despite warnings from the Pentagon that they could endanger American soldiers and their Afghan helpers.

A Stockholm prosecutor issued the arrest warrant on Friday, saying Assange was suspected of rape and molestation in two separate cases. But chief prosecutor Eva Finne withdrew the warrant within 24 hours.

Nairobi, Kenya – A court has sentenced two tuberculosis patients who skipped their medications to spend eight months in prison to avoid spreading the deadly disease among the public, a senior health official said Saturday.

The male patients were locked up in Kapsabet prison in western Kenya nearly 10 days ago to make sure they take their pills as prescribed and do not infect others, said Joseph Sitienei, the head of tuberculosis and lung diseases at the public health and sanitation ministry.

A person whose immune system is compromised by HIV is particularly susceptible to tuberculosis, which is caused by bacteria that usually attack the lungs. The disease is spread through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

Cairo, Egypt – Egypt’s culture minister on Saturday retracted his claim that police had recovered a van Gogh painting stolen from a Cairo museum, saying it was based on inaccurate information and that the search for the canvas continues.

The minister, Farouk Hosni, said earlier Saturday that police had confiscated the painting from an Italian couple at Cairo airport hours after it was lifted from the Mahmoud Khalil Museum in the Egyptian capital.

But Hosni later backtracked, telling a national television news program that “the statement was based on information we received that was false and incorrect.” He said authorities are still searching for the missing painting, which goes by two titles – “Poppy Flowers” and “Vase with Flowers.” Hosni said the piece is valued at around $50 million.

It was not clear what caused the confusion over the artwork’s fate, and officials could not be immediately contacted to clarify.

This is the second time this painting by the Dutch-born postimpressionist has been stolen from the Khalil museum. Thieves first made off with the canvas in 1978, before authorities recovered it two years later at an undisclosed location in Kuwait.


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