- The Washington Times - Monday, February 8, 2010

IRAN

7 tied to radio funded by U.S held

TEHRAN | Iran has arrested seven people linked to a U.S.-funded Farsi-language radio station for purportedly fomenting unrest, and accused some of the suspects of working for American spy agencies, Iranian state media reported Sunday.

The official Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) and Iran’s state radio both cited an Intelligence Ministry statement saying the suspects played a role in violent anti-government demonstrations in Tehran on Dec. 27. On that day, at least eight people were killed and hundreds were arrested during clashes between opposition supporters and security forces.

The violence was the worst since authorities launched a harsh crackdown immediately after Iran’s disputed presidential election in June.

IRNA quoted the ministry statement as saying “some of them have been officially hired by the U.S. intelligence agencies.” It also said the seven planned to take part in opposition demonstrations expected on Feb. 11, when Iran marks the 31st anniversary of the Islamic Revolution that brought the country’s hard-line clerical establishment to power.

It did not identify the suspects or say when they were detained.

The U.S.-sponsored Radio Farda, meaning “Radio Tomorrow,” is Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Farsi-language service. The station, which has bases in Prague, Czech Republic, and Washington, D.C., has been broadcasting since 2003. RFE/RL’s spokesman in Prague, Julian Knapp, expressed concern over the arrests, but said the station has no independent confirmation of them.

COSTA RICA

Nation may elect 1st female leader

SAN JOSE | Costa Ricans appear likely to elect their first female president Sunday as Central America’s most politically and economically stable country chooses between a career politician from the ruling party and an anti-taxation Libertarian.

Pre-election polls gave a nearly 20-point lead to Laura Chinchilla, who served as vice president under current President Oscar Arias, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and free-market enthusiast.

Sunday’s winner needs at least 40 percent of the vote to avoid an April runoff.

Otto Guevara, of the Libertarian Movement Party, emerged as Ms. Chinchilla’s biggest challenger. He promised to lower taxes, dismantle monopolies and adopt the U.S. dollar as the country’s currency.

Otton Solis, who barely lost the presidential election to Mr. Arias in 2006, came in third in the opinion polls.

If Ms. Chinchilla wins, she would follow an increasingly common trend in many Latin American countries: Nicaragua, Panama, Chile and Argentina have all elected women as presidents.

WEST BANK

Israeli forces arrest two foreigners

RAMALLAH | Israeli security forces made an incursion into a Palestinian city Sunday to arrest two foreign women belonging to an organization involved in protests against Israel’s West Bank barrier.

Palestinian government spokesman Ghassan Khatib said the arrest of Spaniard Ariadna Jove Marti and Australian Bridgette Chappell in the city of Ramallah violated interim peace accords that gave Palestinians self-rule in parts of the West Bank.

An Israeli army spokesman said the two women “were known to have been involved in illegal riots that interfered with Israeli security operations,” apparently in reference to the protests against the barrier.

Both in their 20s, the women were activists with the pro-Palestinian International Solidarity Movement (ISM), established in 2001 to mobilize international support for Palestinian activism against Israeli occupation.

INDIA

Nuke-capable missile test a success

NEW DELHI | India again successfully test-fired a nuclear-capable missile Sunday that can hit targets across much of Asia and the Middle East, the Defense Ministry said.

It was the fourth test of the Agni III missile, the ministry said. The first attempt in 2006 failed, but the last two tests were successful.

India’s current arsenal of missiles is largely intended for confronting archrival Pakistan. The Agni III, in contrast, is India’s longest-range missile, designed to reach 1,900 miles, putting China’s major cities well within range, as well as Middle Eastern targets.

India’s homegrown missile arsenal already includes the short-range Prithvi ballistic missile, the medium-range Akash, the anti-tank Nag and the supersonic Brahmos missile, developed with Russia.

NORTHERN IRELAND

Sinn Fein leader faces death threat

BELFAST | Northern Ireland police have warned Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams that a threat has been made against his life, the republican party, which jointly governs the province, said Sunday.

Mr. Adams, who for years was the face of republican opposition to British rule in Northern Ireland and was once interned as a guerrilla suspect, was also recently told by security officials that the threat level against him was “very high.”

Sinn Fein maintains tight security around Mr. Adams who was shot and injured by pro-British loyalist paramilitaries in 1984.

LEBANON

Jet’s black box recovered

BEIRUT | Lebanon’s marine commandos on Sunday recovered the black box of the Ethiopian Airlines jet that crashed into the Mediterranean last month, the Lebanese army said.

The Boeing 737 crashed Jan. 25 minutes after takeoff from Beirut during a fierce thunderstorm. All 90 people on board are thought to have died. The Lebanese military also said that eight more bodies were recovered Sunday, raising the number of bodies retrieved since the crash to 23.

Passenger jets carry two black boxes — a data flight recorder and a cockpit voice recorder. They are commonly referred to as simply “the black box.” The two are usually located in the rear of a plane, the area most likely to survive a crash intact.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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