- - Thursday, January 6, 2011

IRAN

Woman detained on spy charges

TEHRAN | Iranian authorities say they have arrested a 55-year-old American woman — reportedly with a microphone hidden in her teeth — on suspicion of spying. U.S. officials could not immediately confirm the report.

The state-owned newspaper IRAN said the woman — identified in Farsi as Hal Talaian — had “spying equipment or a microphone” concealed in her teeth when customs authorities detained her in the border town of Nordouz, 370 miles northwest of Tehran. The report said she arrived in Iran from neighboring Armenia without a visa.

EGYPT

Officials boost security around churches

CAIRO | Egyptian authorities put up a heavy security cordon early Thursday around the main Coptic cathedral in Cairo hours before Christmas Eve Mass, using bomb-sniffing dogs, metal detectors and officers to try to prevent another attack like the New Year’s suicide bombing of a church that killed 21 people.

Al Qaeda in Iraq had threatened Christians in Iraq and Egypt in the weeks leading up to the holidays, and militant websites have even posted online lists of churches in Egypt to target with their addresses.

Egypt’s Coptic Christian minority, which makes up 10 percent of Egypt’s 80 million people, celebrates Christmas on Jan. 7.

RUSSIA

Opposition activists detained after protest

MOSCOW | Russian police on Thursday detained dozens of opposition activists after they protested outside a Moscow prison against the arrest of opposition leaders, news agencies reported.

“A dozen militants of the Solidarnost movement were detained,” said Olga Shorina, a spokeswoman for the opposition group of which former first deputy prime minister Boris Nemtsov is a member.

Left-wing Front leader Sergei Udaltsov put the number of people arrested at nearly 30, but the figure included those who opposed the rally, said Interfax.

Mr. Nemtsov was sentenced to two weeks in prison on Sunday for resisting the police.

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