- - Sunday, April 1, 2012

UNITED KINGDOM

LONDON Every email to your child. Every status update for your friends. Every message to your mistress.

An official with Britain’s Internet Service Providers’ Association says the government is preparing proposals for a nationwide electronic surveillance network that could potentially keep track of every message sent by any Brit to anyone at any time.

Similar plans were abandoned in 2008 after a public outcry. But the Service Providers’ Association’s James Blessing says the government appears to be “reintroducing it on a slightly different format.”

Britain’s Home Office declined to comment on the particulars of any such move, but a spokesman said Sunday that it would not involve prying into the content of emails or voice conversations.

RUSSIA

Red Square closed; 55 arrested before rally

MOSCOW Russian authorities Sunday cordoned off Moscow’s iconic Red Square and arrested 55 opposition supporters to prevent a rally against President-elect Vladimir Putin.

All access roads to the central square were blocked off, and police arrested dozens of supporters of the “Russia Without Putin” movement.

It came as others shouted slogans against Mr. Putin, who was elected for a third presidential term on March 4 with more than 63 percent of the vote despite months of protests against his regime.

Police arrested 55 people “for trying to stage an unauthorized demonstration,” the Itar-Tass news agency said.

“Red Square is closed,” Moscow police added in a statement.

At least 80 people were arrested in Moscow and St. Petersburg on Saturday as police broke off unauthorized demonstrations against Mr. Putin, the current prime minister.

Saturday’s rally was part of the opposition’s long-running campaign to uphold Article 31 of the constitution, which guarantees freedom of assembly.

FRANCE

Detention not up for 17 suspected Islamists

PARIS The 17 people detained by French police in a crackdown on suspected Islamist networks were remanded in custody Sunday for at least another 24 hours, a source close to the inquiry told Agence France-Presse.

Friday’s arrests were made in connection with a probe into an alleged terror plot. Under French antiterrorist laws, the suspects can be held without charge until Tuesday.

The head of France’s Central Directorate for Domestic Intelligence, Bernard Squarcini, said Saturday that those arrested were “French nationals” involved in “collective warlike training, linked to a violent, religious indoctrination.”

Some of those arrested belonged to a suspected extremist group called Forsane Alizza, he said, and had been involved in paintball-gun games.

The arrests took place in several cities, including Toulouse, where extremist gunman Mohamed Merah was fatally shot by police last month after a series of cold-blooded shootings that left seven dead, including three Jewish children.

President Nicolas Sarkozy said the arrests were not directly linked to the Merah case, but he has called on police to increase surveillance of “radical Islam” in what the opposition has described as a vote-catching move less than a month ahead of a presidential election.

SERBIA

Six perish in nightclub fire

BELGRADE The owner of a nightclub where six people died Sunday trying to escape a blaze has been detained by police, a Serbian official said.

A police spokeswoman said Alojz G., who owns Contrast club in Novi Sad in northern Serbia, was detained with two other people. She did not give the owner’s full name.

Investigative Judge Ana Stamenic said the likely cause of the fire, which erupted around 2 a.m., was flawed electrical installations, but an investigation is ongoing.

Police officials have said the victims died from smoke inhalation while trying to flee the blaze that broke out around the stage area during a live performance and quickly spread.

Some 350 people were inside the club during the fire, and all rushed to the exits in an attempt to flee the blaze.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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