- - Tuesday, September 14, 2010

IRAN

Bail decision for hiker stirs backlash

TEHRAN | Iran’s internal battles over the handling of U.S. detainee Sarah Shourd flared again Monday as the mouthpiece of the powerful Revolutionary Guard led the backlash against a decision to free her on $500,000 bail.

The criticism by the Guard-linked Fars news agency and others — including one lawmaker calling it a “bonus for Koran burners” in the United States — show the judiciary’s offer to release Miss Shourd on health grounds had failed to quiet the political tempest among Iran’s hard-line factions.

The political sniping also shows the country’s simmering political rivalries and the various groups vying for greater portions of power since last year’s disputed re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Mr. Ahmadinejad, who first tried to shepherd the release of Miss Shourd last week, was rebuked by the courts, who insisted that any release had to be on their terms.

Now Mr. Ahmadinejad’s supporters, led by the Revolutionary Guard, are pushing back against the judiciary’s decision.

UNITED KINGDOM

Officials won’t meet U.S. investigators

LONDON | The British government said Monday it has refused a request from a U.S. Senate committee to interview officials involved in the release of the man convicted of blowing up a passenger plane over Lockerbie, Scotland, more than two decades ago.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is sending a staffer to Britain as part of its investigation into the release of Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, the only person convicted of the 1988 attack, which killed all 259 people aboard the Pan Am plane — most of them American — and 11 on the ground.

The Foreign Office said it had declined a request for officials to meet the Senate staffer because the Civil Service Code prevents serving staff from discussing the policies of previous governments and because of concerns over international jurisdiction.

UNITED NATIONS

Top Chinese official apologizes for rant

The most senior Chinese official at the U.N. made a personal apology to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for an alcohol-fueled rant at the U.N. leader, a spokesman said Monday.

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