- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 12, 2003

Powell, Annan deny anti-Blix campaign

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan joined yesterday in praise of chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix, who accused U.S. officials of a smear campaign against him.

“There is no smear campaign I am aware of,” Mr. Powell said. “I have high regard for Dr. Blix. … I noted the president had confidence in him as well.”

Mr. Annan said he could not address the question of a smear campaign, but said some press reports about Mr. Blix were unfair.

Mr. Blix, who oversaw the search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq before the war, made the accusation of a smear campaign in an interview published yesterday in the London Guardian newspaper.

LAOS

2 Western journalists, American Hmong held

BANGKOK — Two European journalists and an American were arrested in Laos on murder charges, the government said yesterday.

Paris-based Reporters Without Borders said the journalists were detained while doing a story about Hmong rebels, who have battled Laos’ communist government since 1975.

The official Lao News Agency said Belgian photojournalist Thierry Falise and French cameraman Vincent Reynaud were arrested with an American of Hmong origin identified as Mua Naw Kari, or Kar Vang, for helping “bandits” kill a security official in a remote northeastern village.

A Foreign Ministry official said they were arrested June 4 but would not say where they were being held.

THAILAND

Marked map seized from terror suspects

BANGKOK — Authorities confiscated a Bangkok tourist map with circled targets from three Thai Muslims arrested in a suspected plot to attack foreign embassies and U.S. interests in Thailand, police said yesterday.

The three are suspected to be members of Jemaah Islamiyah, the group accused of carrying out the deadly Oct. 12 bombing on the Indonesian island of Bali.

Police also are seeking another Thai Muslim suspected of being part of the plot.

FRANCE

German in custody called al Qaeda leader

PARIS — A German arrested last week because of his suspected involvement in a deadly Tunisian terror attack is a ranking al Qaeda member and has been in contact with Osama bin Laden, France’s Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy told Parliament yesterday.

Christian Ganczarski, 36, was arrested June 3 at Charles de Gaulle Airport for his suspected role in an April 2002 attack that killed 21 persons at a synagogue in Djerba, Tunisia.

French intelligence agents believe Ganczarski, a specialist in computers and telecommunications, served in Afghanistan and Bosnia.

CUBA

Official criticizes European countries

HAVANA — Cuba lashed out at the European Union yesterday, accusing the 15-nation bloc of serving U.S. interests through recent criticisms of the Fidel Castro government.

Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque accused Spain’s government of funding dissident groups that Havana claims are being organized by the United States.

Later, the government urged Havana residents to join a protest planned for today outside the embassies of Spain and Italy.

VENEZUELA

U.S. revokes visa of anti-Chavez general

CARACAS — The United States has revoked the U.S. entry visa of a former Venezuelan army general who was dismissed for taking part in a coup last year against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, the U.S. Embassy in Caracas said yesterday.

Gen. Enrique Medina Gomez, a former military attache at Venezuela’s embassy in Washington, was also a ringleader of a nonviolent disobedience campaign in Caracas last October by more than 100 anti-Chavez military officers.

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