- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 14, 2005

IRAQ

American hostage shown on video

BAGHDAD — An Indiana man, scared and clutching his passport to his chest, was shown at gunpoint on a videotape aired by Al Jazeera television yesterday, two days after he was kidnapped from a water-treatment plant near Baghdad. The station said he pleaded for his life and urged U.S. troops to withdraw from Iraq.

In LaPorte, Ind., a yellow ribbon was tied around a tree outside Jeffrey Ake’s one-story brick house, and an American flag fluttered on a pole from the home. The U.S. Embassy said the man on the video appeared to be Mr. Ake, a contract worker who was kidnapped about noon Monday.

The video came on a day of bloody attacks, as terrorists blew up a fuel tanker in Baghdad, killed 12 policemen in Kirkuk, and drove a car carrying a bomb into a U.S. convoy, killing five Iraqis and wounding four U.S. contract workers on the capital’s infamous airport road.

LEBANON

Prime minister quits again

BEIRUT — Lebanon’s pro-Syrian prime minister quit yesterday, abandoning efforts to form a government to lead the country to general elections, but said there was still time to hold the elections on time next month.

Prime Minister Omar Karami said he had hit a wall in trying to form a Cabinet, whose main task would be to supervise the elections.

Mr. Karami resigned in February amid anti-government protests over the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, but was renamed prime minister a few days later.

AFGHANISTAN

Karzai seeks long-term pact

KABUL — Afghan President Hamid Karzai said he is seeking a long-term security partnership that could keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan indefinitely.

Mr. Karzai made the statement yesterday at a press conference with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, who was notably reluctant to discuss the Bush administration’s level of interest in giving Afghanistan security guarantees.

JAPAN

Gas-exploration bid likely to anger China

TOKYO — Japan began processing applications to let companies explore a disputed area of the East China Sea for natural gas, a move likely to aggravate a dispute with China that has threatened Tokyo’s United Nations Security Council ambitions.

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi denied the move yesterday had anything to do with a feud between Tokyo and Beijing over Japan’s World War II aggression.

BRITAIN

Al Qaeda terrorist convicted in plot

LONDON — A British court has convicted an al Qaeda-trained Algerian man of a plot to launch chemical and bomb attacks after an investigation that spanned 17 countries.

Kamel Bourgass also was found guilty of murdering a policeman in a botched raid when he was captured two years ago, after police discovered a suspected chemical weapons lab in a North London apartment and started a countrywide sweep.

GREECE

Court allows cartoon of Jesus and Hendrix

ATHENS — A Greek court has lifted a ban on selling a cartoon book from Austria depicting Jesus as a drinking buddy of the late rock legend Jimi Hendrix.

Austrian cartoonist Gerhard Haderer had been found guilty by a Greek court of “malicious public blasphemy” earlier this year and given a six-month suspended prison sentence.

But the Athens appeals court ruled the book was not “blasphemous” and overturned Mr. Haderer’s conviction, his attorney Maria Marazioti told Reuters News Agency.

ZIMBABWE

British journalists ordered released

NORTON — A Zimbabwean court yesterday ordered the release on bail of two British journalists accused of illegally covering last month’s elections after prosecutors failed to produce evidence to keep the two in jail.

The Sunday Telegraph’s chief foreign correspondent, Toby Harnden, 37, and photographer Julian Simmonds, 46, have pleaded not guilty to charges of violating immigration rules and the law barring journalists from working in Zimbabwe without accreditation.

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