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Briefly - Asia

- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 24, 2010

CHINA

China marks anti-drug day with executions

BEIJING | Six people were executed as China prepared to mark a global anti-drug day, state press said Friday.

The punishments, for four separate cases of manufacturing, smuggling and selling ketamine, methamphetamine, heroin and marijuana, bring to 14 the number of executions announced this week.

June 26 marks the U.N.'s International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, a date when China traditionally has executed and sentenced convicted drug traffickers to illustrate its resolve in fighting the scourge.

The latest executions were announced by the Supreme Court on Thursday, Xinhua news agency reported, without detailing when they took place.

NORTH KOREA

N. Korea threatens American over U.S. policy

SEOUL, South Korea | North Korea threatened Thursday to increase punishment for an American who was sentenced to hard labor for illegally entering the country, citing what it called a hostile U.S. policy toward it.

Aijalon Mahli Gomes, from Boston, was sentenced in April to eight years of hard labor and fined $700,000 for entering the country illegally and for an unspecified "hostile act."

Thaleia Schlesinger, a spokeswoman for Mr. Gomes' family in Boston, said they had not heard the news and did not immediately have a comment.

Communist North Korea has freed three other Americans detained for illegal entry but ruled out Mr. Gomes' release amid tensions over the sinking of a South Korean warship that Seoul and Washington have blamed on the North.

On Thursday, the State Department told North Korea not to link the Gomes case to the sinking of a South Korean warship, saying the country should "separate political rhetoric from this matter concerning a private American citizen."

CHINA

Tibetan environmentalist gets 15 years in prison

BEIJING | A Tibetan environmentalist once praised as a model philanthropist was sentenced to 15 years in prison Thursday on charges of grave robbing and dealing in looted antiquities. Supporters said the case was aimed at punishing his activism.

The trial of Karma Samdrup came after he spoke up for his two brothers, also environmental activists, who were detained after accusing local officials in eastern Tibet of poaching endangered species. Authorities in tightly controlled Tibet are extremely sensitive to social activism and criticism, whether explicit or implied.

The cases come amid increased repression of Tibetan intellectuals, an echo of the massive security crackdown that followed rioting in the capital, Lhasa, in 2008 in which at least 22 people died.

In addition to the prison sentence, Mr. Samdrup was stripped of his political rights for five years and fined 10,000 yuan ($1,500) after a three-day trial with sessions that lasted until midnight, lawyer Pu Zhiqiang told Associated Press.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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