- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 22, 2009

BAHAMAS

Trial begins in extortion case

NASSAU | Jury selection began Monday in a trial that could see John Travolta take the stand against two people accused of trying to extort $25 million from the movie star after his son’s death in the Bahamas.

Mr. Travolta is on a list of 14 witnesses against the defendants - a former Bahamas senator and an ambulance driver - who reportedly threatened to release a document related to the treatment of his chronically ill son, Jett.

His testimony would mark a break from the low profile that Mr. Travolta and his wife, actress Kelly Preston, have kept since their 16-year-old son died from a seizure at a family vacation home on Grand Bahama Island on Jan. 2.

Mr. Travolta, 55, skipped the publicity tour this summer for his latest film, “The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3.” He posted a note on his Web site in June thanking his co-stars for their efforts to promote the picture, which gave the family additional time to grieve.

ANTARCTICA

American evacuated from scientific base

WELLINGTON, New Zealand | An American working at a U.S. scientific base on the frozen continent of Antarctica has suffered heart problems and was being evacuated Monday to New Zealand, the New Zealand air force said.

He had been working as part of the U.S. Antarctic Program and was in a serious but stable condition. The man’s name and hometown were not immediately available, nor was more information about his illness.

“He needed immediate evacuation from here for treatment” but was stabilized for the flight, Raytheon Polar Services operations manager Kerry Chuck told the Associated Press by telephone from the McMurdo base.

CANADA

Terror suspect gets reduction in bail

OTTAWA | Canada’s federal court on Monday granted a former pizza delivery man accused of being an al Qaeda sleeper agent lighter bail conditions, saying he no longer poses a serious national security threat.

Algerian Mohamed Harkat faced some of the stiffest bail conditions ever set by a Canadian court when he was released in 2006 after spending almost four years in jail under a rarely used national security measure.

A recent risk assessment, however, found that his new public profile after having been very vocal trying to clear his name has made him less dangerous.

Justice Simon Noel ruled Monday that Mr. Harkat would no longer be required to observe a curfew, endure video cameras at his Ottawa house or obtain prior approval to welcome visitors.

Mr. Harkat will still be required to wear an electronic monitoring ankle bracelet and report weekly to authorities. His passport also remains with federal agents.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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