- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 26, 2004


Russia demands spies’ release

DOHA — Qatar said yesterday it had charged two Russians with involvement in the assassination of a former rebel Chechen president, prompting a furious Moscow to demand the release of the men it said were Russian spies.

In a statement on Russian television, Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said the agents had been “illegally detained.” He said they had been waging a war against international terrorism but “had nothing whatsoever to do” with the death of Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev, who was killed by a car bomb in Qatar on Feb. 13.

A Qatari Interior Ministry official said three men had been arrested last week but one was freed after Russian officials met Qatari Foreign Minister Sheik Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr al-Thani on Tuesday.


Rumsfeld sees antiterror progress

KABUL — With stronger assistance from neighboring Pakistan, military operations against the al Qaeda terrorist organization have made new progress, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said yesterday as he wrapped up a weeklong visit to the Persian Gulf and Central Asia.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai declared the Taliban defeated and suggested that much of the violence in his country is caused by criminals rather than guerrilla holdouts.


Traffic controller killed; kin detained

ZURICH — Swiss police said yesterday they were holding a man who lost his wife, son and daughter in an airliner crash on suspicion of killing the air traffic controller who had been on duty the night his family died.

Police said the man had first attracted suspicion by his odd behavior at an anniversary service in July for the 71 victims of the midair collision of two planes in 2002.

The Danish-born controller, stabbed to death on the doorstep of his family home near Zurich airport Tuesday, had been in charge of traffic over Lake Constance when a holiday charter carrying more than 50 Russian children collided with a DHL cargo jet.


First citizenship ceremony held

LONDON — Nineteen immigrants from 10 nations gathered in north London yesterday to sing “God Save the Queen” and swear allegiance to their adopted homeland, as Britain staged its first-ever citizenship ceremony.

Prince Charles was guest of honor for the event, the first in a new initiative by the British government designed to add symbolic significance to the act of becoming a fully fledged British citizen.


VOA dubbed ‘security threat’

HARARE — Zimbabwean journalists working for Voice of America pose a threat to Zimbabwe’s national security, the state media commission said yesterday.

“The Voice of America is an arm of the U.S. State Department, which is on record as seeking to overthrow the government of Zimbabwe through unconstitutional means and [illegally] under the United Nations charter,” the commission said.


Longest-jailed Tibetan nun freed

BEIJING — China yesterday freed a Tibetan nun believed to be the country’s longest-serving female political prisoner, a U.S.-based rights activist said.

Phuntsog Nyidron, 37, was freed after about 15 years in prison, John Kamm, president of the Dui Hua Foundation in San Francisco, told Reuters. Her release could encourage talks between envoys of the Dalai Lama and the Chinese government, he said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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