Jordanian Ambassador Marwan Muasher is trying to win the release of 10 Jordanians whom U.S. authorities are holding for questioning in connection to the September 11 terrorist attacks.
He said yesterday that most of them were being held on immigration issues, such as expired visas. One has been charged with perjury for telling a grand jury he knew nothing about the terrorists responsible for the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
“As far as our sources have compiled, U.S. authorities rounded up at least 10 Jordanians, and we are trying to look into their cases and win their release,” Mr. Muasher told the Jordan Times.
Mr. Muasher said he is getting little cooperation from U.S. officials, who have withheld information on the detention under new anti-terrorism laws.
“We have been inquiring by telephone, through memos and letters to all concerned parties, but they have been secretive about details of the arrests,” the ambassador said. “They are not forthcoming.”
Lithuanian specialists have decontaminated the U.S. Embassy after anthrax spores were found last week in the diplomatic mail.
U.S. Ambassador John Tefft praised the health department specialists who cleaned areas of the embassy where the anthrax was discovered in the first confirmed case in Europe.
“The smell of the chemicals used should subside very shortly, and then we will be able to resume work in those areas,” Mr. Tefft told journalists in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius.
“The response of the Lithuanian health officials has been tremendous,” he added.
The anthrax spores were found in one of five mailbags from Washington. None of the embassy’s 130 staffers has shown any symptoms of the disease, although some are taking antibiotics.
The embassy apparently was not the target, just the recipient of mail from the State Department’s mail facility where anthrax was found recently, an embassy spokesman said.
“It’s just an indication that the State Department mail system was contaminated,” spokesman Michael Boyle told Agence France-Presse.
Lorena Clare de Rodriguez has used her position as first lady of Costa Rica to champion social causes, including working for the rights of the disabled.
Mrs. Rodriquez has publicized laws that benefit the handicapped, created a special government office to ensure their rights and even persuaded a school for visually impaired and blind students to shed light into a building constructed with little thought for aesthetics.
“Who said sunlight cannot be sensed and that a window is just a space on a wall?” she asked rhetorically on a visit to Washington last week when she was honored with the Goodwill Industries Humanitarian Service Award.
Mrs. Rodriquez, who also discussed her work with first lady Laura Bush, detailed her efforts on behalf of the disabled in a speech at the award presentation.
She started Costa Rica’s Program for People with Disabilities four years ago after her country adopted a bill of rights for the handicapped.
“However, it was evident that the law needed to be supplemented with extensive social awareness and concrete actions aimed at improving the quality of life for this particular population,” she said.
One of her early projects was the reconstruction of a school for the visually impaired, which she described as “an ambitious, complex and costly task.” The building had poor lighting, inadequate restrooms and no handicapped ramps.
On Oct. 3, her project dedicated the reconstructed school that complied with the latest disabilities standards and was to serve 140 students.
Mrs. Rodriquez said she has many other projects in the works for the disabled, including a national resource center to provide the students and teachers “with the most modern information, counseling and training services.”
Mrs. Rodriquez said she was “deeply honored and grateful” for the humanitarian award.
“I sincerely share this award with all those people who have cooperated with us in reaching our goals and helping us improve the quality of life of people with disabilities in Costa Rica,” she said.