- The Washington Times - Friday, August 22, 2008

BRITAIN

Court orders release of Gitmo documents

LONDON | A British court ordered Foreign Secretary David Miliband on Thursday to disclose secret documents that could prove critical to the defense of a Guantanamo Bay detainee who claims he was tortured while in U.S. custody on terrorism charges.

Mr. Miliband now has a week to decide whether to comply with the order to release the documents pertaining to Binyam Mohamed’s detention. The British government has argued that the release of the documents could compromise national security, and it could appeal the court order.

The High Court made the ruling in the case of Mr. Mohamed, who was captured in Pakistan in April 2002 and accused of conspiring with al Qaeda leaders to attack civilians. His attorneys say the British government is withholding information about his treatment in U.S. custody that is critical to his hope of receiving a fair trial.



“The information held by the foreign secretary is not merely necessary, but essential, if Binyam Mohamed is to have his case fairly considered,” Judge John Thomas wrote in the 75-page judgment.

SPAIN

Overheated air delayed takeoff

MADRID | A gauge indicating overheated air was entering a Spanair jetliner forced pilots to abandon a takeoff about an hour before the plane crashed in flames, but airline officials refused to speculate Thursday on the cause of the accident that killed 153 people.

As investigators tried to piece together what happened, relatives crushed by grief went to a makeshift morgue to identify loved ones. Officials said many of the bodies were burned beyond recognition.

Development Minister Magdalena Alvarez said 39 bodies had been identified, and that the process could take days because forensic teams were using DNA to help make identifications.

IRAQ

U.S. military frees TV photographer

BAGHDAD | The U.S. military freed a Reuters television photographer Thursday after holding him for three weeks in Iraq without charges.

Ali al-Mashhadani, who also works freelance for the British Broadcasting Corp. and Washington-based National Public Radio, was detained in Baghdad on July 30 while he was in the Green Zone government compound for routine checks for a U.S. military press card.

U.S. forces have detained Mr. al-Mashhadani twice before, at one point holding him for five months, but no charge has ever been filed against the photographer, who is based in Ramadi, the capital of western Anbar province.

CHINA

Police pick up more activists

BEIJING | Police descended on a group of foreign pro-Tibet activists and some disgruntled business owners from Hong Kong on Thursday, taking away both groups minutes after they displayed protest signs in central Beijing.

The abrupt end of the separate protests - and the sentencing of six foreigners to 10 days of detention for “disrupting public order” - underscored China’s determination to prevent any disruption during the Olympics.

Earlier, police seized four activists protesting Chinese rule in Tibet as they unfurled a Tibetan flag and shouted, “Free Tibet,” south of the National Stadium, the New York-based Students for a Free Tibet said.

NIGERIA

President replaces top military chiefs

ABUJA | Three of the top four military commanders in oil-rich but strife-racked Nigeria have been replaced, President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua’s office said Thursday.

The move, which follows a rise in rebel activity targeting oil installations across the Niger Delta, was enacted shortly before Mr. Yar’Adua left the country Wednesday night for a pilgrimage to Mecca.

The shake-up - replacing the chief of defense staff and the heads of the army and navy - removed all but one top officer appointed by President Olusegun Obasanjo.

The move was announced shortly after Mr. Yar’Adua’s ruling People’s Democratic Party said some opposition parties were plotting to topple his government.

Nigeria had been beset by military coups until 1999, when Mr. Obasanjo was elected into office. A former military ruler, Mr. Obasanjo handpicked Mr. Yar’Adua as the ruling party’s candidate for 2007 presidential election after a failed attempt at seeking a third term.

PHILIPPINES

Rebels reject surrender demand

ILIGAN | A Muslim rebel organization rejected demands by the Philippine government Thursday for the surrender of two renegade commanders blamed for attacks that killed dozens of people, setting the stage for an escalation in fighting.

Government press secretary Jesus Dureza said the Moro Islamic Liberation Front should hand over Abdullah Macapaar, also known as Bravo, and Ameril Umbra Kato.

Mr. Macapaar is accused of leading a raid Monday on five towns that left 37 people shot or hacked to death. Mr. Kato led the occupation of predominantly Christian villages in the south last week.

In a radio interview, Mr. Dureza said the government cannot sign a peace agreement with “an organization that doesn’t have control over its commanders” and called on the front’s chairman, Murad Ebrahim, to surrender the two commanders to the government.

But Mohagher Iqbal, the rebels’ chief peace negotiator, refused. “We are a revolutionary organization. We will never turn over our men to them. We have our own internal justice [system],” he told reporters by telephone.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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