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In brief: Vladimir Putin to pardon Mikhail Khodorkovsky

Moscow – Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that he will pardon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the former tycoon and rival whose imprisonment was widely seen as politically motivated.

The Russian leader said Khodorkovsky had asked for clemency in a letter and that he was planning to grant it within the next few days.

“His over 10 years of imprisonment is a serious punishment and he referred to humanitarian circumstances” in the letter, Putin said to reporters after his annual news conference in Moscow. “His mother is sick, and I think the decision can be taken and a decree pardoning him will be signed in the near future.”

Khodorkovsky, the former head of the Yukos oil giant, was found guilty of fraud, money laundering and tax evasion and has been in prison since 2003. His sentence currently is set to run until late next year.

Kate Middleton allegedly hacked

London – A court trying former British newspaper editors over alleged phone-hacking on Thursday heard that one newspaper had hacked into the phone of Kate Middleton, Prince William’s then girlfriend and now his wife.

In one voice message William, who was then training at the Sandhurst military academy, called her “babykins,” while in another he revealed that he had almost been shot with blanks while on an army exercise.

“Hi baby,” he said in one message. “I had a busy day today again. I’ve been running around the woods of Aldershot chasing shadows and getting terribly lost, and I walked into some other regiment’s ambush, which was slightly embarrassing because I nearly got shot.

“Not by live rounds but by blank rounds, which would be very embarrassing though,” he said in the message.