- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 26, 2009

IRAN

U.S. journalist on hunger strike

TEHRAN | An American journalist jailed in Iran for purportedly spying for the U.S. was on her fifth day of a hunger strike Saturday and does not plan to stop until she is freed, her father said.

Roxana Saberi, a dual American-Iranian citizen who will turn 32 Sunday, was convicted more than a week ago and sentenced to eight years in prison after a swift, one-day trial behind closed doors. She began her hunger strike Tuesday to protest her imprisonment, her father said.

The U.S. has called the accusations against Miss Saberi baseless and demanded her release. Miss Saberi’s father said her attorney appealed the court’s ruling Saturday.

Miss Saberi was arrested in late January and initially accused of working without press credentials. But earlier this month, an Iranian judge leveled the far more serious allegation of espionage.

ETHIOPIA

35 held; officials suspect coup plot

NAIROBI, Kenya | The Ethiopian government has arrested 35 people suspected of a coup attempt purportedly backed by an Ethiopian-American economist now teaching at a Pennsylvania university, an Ethiopian government spokesman said Saturday.

Government spokesman Ermias Legesse said the group, which calls itself “May 15” after the date of controversial 2005 elections in Ethiopia, was led from the U.S. by former opposition leader Berhanu Nega, who teaches economics at Bucknell University. He is an assistant professor of economics, according to the Web site of the university in Lewisburg, Pa.

The spokesman said the purported coup plotters were arrested Friday.

Mr. Berhanu was elected mayor of Addis Ababa in 2005 but was arrested afterward along with more than 100 other opposition politicians and put on trial for treason. He and the others were freed in 2007 in a pardon deal. He left Ethiopia after the trial.

ICELAND

Left wing finishes strong at polls

REYKJAVIK | Iceland’s leftist government was headed Saturday for a strong victory in the country’s general election, according to preliminary results.

Early results showed that a left-wing coalition made up of the Social Democratic Alliance and the Left Green Movement had won 35 out of the 63 seats in parliament.

The two parties are part of a caretaker government that took office in February after public protests about Iceland’s economic collapse toppled the previous conservative administration. The left-wing coalition is led by interim Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir.

The results were considered an overwhelming rejection of the conservative, pro-business Independence Party, which headed a coalition government last fall when the banking system failed.

SOMALIA

Pirates seize German ship

NAIROBI, Kenya | Pirates have seized a German-owned ship in the pirate-infested waters between Somalia and Yemen, a U.S. Navy spokesman said Saturday.

Pirates captured the Maltese-flagged MV Patriot early Saturday in the Gulf of Aden about 150 nautical miles southeast of the coastal Yemeni city of Muqalla.

Also in the Gulf of Aden on Saturday, naval vessels from the U.S., Germany and China came to the aid of a Philippine chemical tanker stranded without fuel in waters near Somalia days after it was freed by pirates.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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