- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 9, 2004

TURKEY

Top Kurds freed; broadcasts allowed

ANKARA — Turkey freed four jailed Kurdish lawmakers and aired the first TV and radio broadcasts in the Kurdish language yesterday, key steps aimed at improving its human rights record and boosting its bid to join the European Union.

Hundreds of people cheered, with some tossing flowers, as Leyla Zana, the main figure in the group of former lawmakers, left Ankara’s Ulucanlar prison. She and the other three lawmakers were imprisoned in 1994, three years after being elected to parliament.

Turkey’s state-run broadcaster TRT aired its first-ever Kurdish broadcasts — a 30-minute news and music program in the once-taboo language on both television and radio.

Until 1991, speaking Kurdish at all was outlawed in Turkey. Airing any Kurdish besides songs was still banned until 2002, when Turkey’s parliament legalized limited broadcasts to meet EU membership requirements.

ITALY

Suspects discussed attack in U.S.

ROME — An Italian prosecutor said yesterday he had provided U.S. authorities with transcripts of phone calls between terror suspects, including one that reportedly refers to a woman ready to carry out a chemical attack in the United States.

The two terror suspects were arrested Tuesday in Milan and include Rabie Osman Ahmed, an Egyptian believed to be behind the March 11 train bombings in Madrid, Milan prosecutor Maurizio Romanelli said.

Italian officials suspect Mr. Ahmed was planning further attacks, including on the Paris subway system and a NATO base in Belgium, and they tipped off Belgian counterparts, who arrested 15 persons in coordinated raids.

SPAIN

Six arrested in Madrid bombings

MADRID — Spanish police arrested six persons in northern Spain yesterday in connection with the sale of explosives used in the March 11 train bombings in Madrid.

An Interior Ministry spokesman said police wiretaps had shown several of the six had spoken on the telephone in January and February with several of the Moroccan Islamist militants suspected of a role in the attacks that killed 191 persons and injured more than 1,800.

BRITAIN

Health official fuels row on smoking

LONDON — British Health Secretary John Reid lit up a controversy by calling smoking one of the few pleasures available to the poor and saying the danger posed by smoking “is an obsession of the learned middle class.”

Mr. Reid told a public meeting in London on Tuesday that “the only enjoyment” for single mothers on neglected public housing estates is “to have a cigarette.”

Mr. Reid, a former smoker, said it was important to “be very careful that you do not patronize people” when advising against smoking.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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