- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 5, 2000

France investigates U.S. spy network

PARIS French prosecutors have begun an investigation into the U.S. global surveillance system Echelon, which is said to be capable of sifting through millions of telephone calls, faxes and e-mails a day.

Legal sources confirmed a report in yesterday's edition of Figaro newspaper that said France's chief prosecutor, Jean-Pierre Dintilhac, had ordered an investigation at the end of May in the wake of concerns raised by Thierry Jean-Pierre, a member of the European Parliament.

Several European Parliament members have accused the United States and some of its allies, including Britain, of using Echelon for industrial espionage against European exporters and governments.

French authorities are concerned that Echelon, which according to Figaro is capable of listening to and processing the equivalent of the entire content of the U.S. Library of Congress in 10 hours, could pose a threat to France's "fundamental interests."

Puerto Ricans demand freedom from shelling

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico Likening their cause to the U.S. battle for independence, hundreds of Puerto Ricans rallied on the Fourth of July holiday outside a federal prison holding activists opposed to Navy bombing on the island of Vieques.

"It is paradoxical to celebrate the independence of the United States and honor the patriots of that nation while they imprison the patriots of this land," local Rep. Victor Garcia told a cheering crowd.

Hundreds more protesters marched in the southern city of Ponce, led by Mayor Rafael Cordero Santiago.

Key Iraqis quit U.S.-backed alliance

CAIRO A key Iraqi opposition group said yesterday it was leaving a Washington-backed alliance in protest over its strategy, dealing a blow to U.S. efforts to unite Saddam Hussein's opponents.

The announcement by the Iraqi National Accord that it was quitting the Iraqi National Congress came three days before an INC meeting in London to work out a new anti-Saddam strategy and bring more of his foes under its umbrella.

In a statement, the INA gave several reasons for leaving, including what it said was the London-based congress' close association with the United States.

Museveni may accept multiparty system

KAMPALA, Uganda Five days after voters opted to stick with his "no-party" system in a referendum marked by low turnout and an opposition boycott, President Yoweri Museveni made the surprise announcement that he was willing to consider a return to multiparty politics.

"I have no problem with political parties if they are not on the wrong basis," he told a news conference. "Let's change society in such a way that if parties are brought in, they are no longer a danger."

Fiji gunbattle stirs fears of showdown

SUVA, Fiji Fears that the political crisis in Fiji could end in a bloody showdown intensified yesterday when the army and rebels fought a gunbattle outside parliament, hours after a new government was sworn in.

Five supporters of George Speight, the coup leader, were shot and wounded in the clash outside the besieged parliament complex, raising fears for the safety of the 27 hostages and reviving speculation of a military assault on the compound.

The skirmish started when 200 supporters of Mr. Speight surrounded a small group of soldiers on patrol near mangrove swamps beside the parliament in Suva.

The soldiers fired warning shots, sparking a 15-minute shootout.

Arafat divulges financial secrets

JERUSALEM After years of pressure from foreign donors, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has divulged his administration's financial secrets from the existence of a multimillion dollar political fund to a state monopoly on cement and a $60 million share in a highly profitable casino.

The 16-page report, posted on the Palestinian Authority's Web site, has drawn praise from the donor community, coupled with warnings that fledgling financial and economic reforms will be eroded if the government doesn't trim the bloated public payroll expected to devour 60 percent of this year's $1 billion budget.

Based on wire dispatches and staff reports.

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