Court ruling frees al Qaeda suspect
BERLIN — An al Qaeda suspect was freed yesterday after the country’s high court blocked his extradition to Spain, ruling that a European Union-wide arrest warrant — heralded as a key step in the fight against terrorism — does not comply with German law.
European governments are scrambling to enact legislation in response to the deadly July 7 bombings in London. The ruling deals a blow to the European Union’s post-September 11 counterterrorism plans and highlights the difficulties Europe faces in rushing through counterterrorism legislation, which often is rejected by courts and at times contested by civil libertarians.
AIDS spreading in Asia, study says
NEW YORK — Heroin users and prostitutes in Burma have spread HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, through large parts of Asia, according to a Council on Foreign Relations study released yesterday.
The use of so-called genetic fingerprinting allows scientists to identify changes in the evolution of the virus and thereby dispute accusations, such as the one Libya made against Bulgarian nurses some years ago, that one group or another was spreading the virus.
“With the exception of one serious outbreak in China, virtually all the strains of HIV now circulating in Asia — from Manipur, India, all the way to Vietnam, from mid-China all the way down to Indonesia, come from a single country,” said Laurie Garrett, author of the 67-page report.
“Several research teams have proven that these various HIV strains can be tracked along four major routes, all originating in Burma,” she said.
Mandela celebrates 87th birthday
JOHANNESBURG — South Africa celebrated Nelson Mandela’s 87th birthday yesterday, lighting a special torch in his apartheid prison cell as part of a new nationwide drive to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS.
The torch was lit just after midnight on Robben Island, the former apartheid prison off Cape Town where Mr. Mandela spent almost two decades for seeking to end white rule and bring democracy to the country.
Organizers say the torch, brought back to Cape Town in a blaze of fireworks, will be taken throughout South Africa as part of Mr. Mandela’s AIDS awareness campaign. People are being encouraged to drop off birthday greetings at each of its stops nationwide.
Journalist hospitalized after hunger strike
TEHRAN — A jailed Iranian journalist was hospitalized yesterday after he went on a hunger strike for more than a month, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.
Akbar Ganji was sentenced to six years in jail in 2000 for reports accusing Intelligence Ministry agents of slaying five dissidents in 1998. The ministry blamed the killings on “rogue agents,” but Mr. Ganji’s articles said the killings were ordered by senior hard-liners in the ruling Islamic establishment.
Ballet, sports for girls banned from schools
RIYADH — Saudi Arabia’s Education Ministry has banned the teaching of ballet and sports in public schools for girls to conform to Islamic rules.
“There will be a specialized academy for gifted girls in those fields in the near future,” Education Minister Abdullah bin Saleh Abeed said yesterday.
He said the activities were banned from schools because they did not conform with the country’s conservative Islamic rules and traditions.
From wire dispatches and staff reports