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In brief: Pakistan conviction wasn’t for treason

Thu., May 31, 2012

Islamabad – In a twist to a case that has angered Washington, the Pakistani doctor who helped the CIA hunt Osama bin Laden was convicted and jailed last week for supposed involvement with an Islamic militant group, not his work for American intelligence, court documents revealed Wednesday.

Shakil Afridi’s 33-year prison sentence – which drew condemnation from the Obama administration and leading members of Congress – had been widely assumed to be a result of a treason conviction for working for a foreign intelligence agency, a crime in Pakistan.

Instead, the judgment at a secret trial in Pakistan’s tribal area on seemingly spurious charges of supporting a militant group was likely to rankle Washington further, even as lawyers said the shaky basis for the conviction would make it easier for it to be overturned.

The written verdict against Afridi, leaked Wednesday, shows that he was tried and convicted for his alleged association with Lashkar-e-Islam, a banned group that operates in Afridi’s home area of Khyber, which is the wealthiest part of the tribal area.

Hacking witness charged with perjury

London – British Prime Minister David Cameron’s former press aide was arrested and charged Wednesday on suspicion of committing perjury during a 2010 trial related to Britain’s phone hacking scandal.

Scottish police said Andy Coulson had been arrested and charged, but they gave no additional information.

The arrest was reportedly related to testimony Coulson gave in the trial of Tommy Sheridan, a former Scottish lawmaker who was convicted of lying during a legal hearing.

Coulson was editor from 2003 to 2007 of the News of the World tabloid, which was closed down last year by media tycoon Rupert Murdoch amid revelations that the newspaper had been involved in phone hacking.

Kenya moves against Somali Islamists

Nairobi, Kenya – Kenya has renewed its long-stalled offensive against al-Qaida’s affiliate in Somalia, just days after the Kenyan government blamed the Somali Islamists for an apparent terrorist attack in downtown Nairobi.

For the second day in a row, Kenyan naval forces on Wednesday bombarded the Somali seaport of Kismayo, a key stronghold of Somalia’s al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab insurgents, while ground troops attacked Afmadhow, a major town that Kenya says it must capture before advancing by land against Kismayo. A Kenyan military spokesman tweeted Wednesday night that Afmadhow had fallen.

Port fees at Kismayo are al-Shabab’s primary source of funds, and its capture by Kenyan troops would be a major blow to the organization, which once dominated southern Somalia.


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