- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 11, 2006

EGYPT

Press reform passed despite protests

CAIRO — The Egyptian parliament passed a reform measure Monday despite protests by journalists and opposition activists who say it puts new limits on press freedom.

The government-drafted legislation, billed as a reform and passed by a show of hands, eliminates imprisonment for some publishing offenses but continues to let judges send journalists to jail in many cases.

The final text included a last-minute concession to the press that appeared aimed at easing journalists’ fears that they could be jailed for reporting on accusations of government corruption.

The opposition said the bill was another setback for Egyptian liberals and showed the insincerity of pledges by President Hosni Mubarak to allow more political freedom and end jail terms for publishing infractions.

JORDAN

Iraqi militant charged in killings

AMMAN — A purported Iraqi al Qaeda operative who confessed two months ago to killing a Jordanian driver and kidnapping two Moroccan Embassy employees last year will stand trial in Jordan soon, the prosecutor’s office said Monday.

The state security court prosecutor laid four charges against Ziyad Karbouli, described as a local head of an al Qaeda network in the Iraqi town of Rutba near the border with Jordan.

The 23-year-old militant is the only one of 14 defendants in the case who is in police custody. The other Iraqi suspects will be tried in absentia.

Karbouli was shown confessing on Jordanian state television in May shortly after his arrest giving a chilling account of how he shot a Jordanian driver in the head.

JORDAN

Lawmakers jailed for mourning Zarqawi

AMMAN — Jordan’s state security court on Monday extended the detention of four Islamist legislators by 15 days for offering condolences to the family of al Qaeda in Iraq’s slain leader Abu Musab Zarqawi, a judicial source said.

The lawmakers, all members of the Islamic Action Front, were arrested June 12. They were charged with incitement to violence and sedition after the families of some of the 60 civilians killed in Amman hotel suicide bombings in November condemned them for paying condolences to his family two days after his death in a U.S. air strike in Iraq on June 7.

On June 26, their remand also was extended for another 15 days. Judicial sources say that if convicted, the lawmakers face six months to three years in prison and a fine of $700.

KUWAIT

Emir OKs Cabinet, drops 2 ministers

KUWAIT CITY — Kuwait’s emir Monday approved a new Cabinet excluding two key figures as demanded by the opposition after its impressive election victory.

The 16-member Cabinet named by Emir Sheik Sabah Ahmad Sabah remains dominated by ruling family members who control the so-called sovereign ministries of Interior, Defense, Foreign and Energy.

Two former ministers who had drawn opposition fire were ousted — Sheik Ahmed Fahd Sabah (energy), a nephew of the emir, and Mohammed Daifallah Sharar (state minister for Cabinet affairs).

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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