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In brief: California man goes on trial in North Korea

From Wire Reports

PYONGYANG, North Korea – North Korea held a trial today for American Matthew Miller, who was detained in April for violating his tourist status when he entered the country. Details were not immediately available.

The specific charges or punishment he could face were not announced before the trial.

Miller, 24, of Bakersfield, California, is believed to have torn up his visa at Pyongyang’s airport and demanded asylum.

A trial also is expected soon for Jeffrey Fowle, 56, who entered the North as a tourist but was arrested in May for leaving a Bible at a provincial club. A third American, missionary Kenneth Bae, is serving a 15-year sentence for alleged “hostile acts.”

Polls show liberals leading in Sweden

STOCKHOLM – Sweden heads into a parliamentary election today with polls showing the left-leaning Social Democrats poised to return to power after eight years of center-right rule.

That would be a return to normalcy in Swedish politics because the Social Democrats – who built the country’s famed welfare state – haven’t been in opposition for this long since they first took power in 1920.

Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, who took office in 2006, is the longest-serving conservative leader in Swedish history. Though he’s won praise internationally for steering Sweden’s economy through Europe’s debt crisis in relatively good shape, many Swedes worry his pro-market policies have undermined the welfare system.

Even though the gap has narrowed in recent weeks, pre-election polls showed the opposition bloc headed by Social Democrat leader Stefan Lofven with a clear lead over Reinfeldt’s coalition.

Egyptian Islamist officials leave Qatar

CAIRO – At least seven officials and clerics associated with Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood are leaving Qatar, members of the group said Saturday, which could ease a regional quarrel over the Persian Gulf monarchy’s sheltering of fugitives from the Islamist movement.

For more than a year since the Egyptian military removed Islamist President Mohamed Morsi from office, Qatar has offered a haven to many members of his Muslim Brotherhood. It also has called for Morsi’s reinstatement and extended financial support to other Islamist groups, including Hamas.

With nations such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates taking Egypt’s side, Qatar has been diplomatically isolated in the gulf region, but had maintained the political support of regional power Turkey and its Islamist-leaning government.

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