- - Monday, July 5, 2010


Authorities search spy suspect’s laptop

NICOSIA | Cyprus police are searching the contents of a confiscated laptop belonging to an alleged Russian spy who has vanished, the east Mediterranean island’s justice minister said on Monday.

Loucas Louca said U.S. authorities have requested the laptop and “more than one” USB memory stick belonging to Christopher Metsos, 54.

Mr. Louca said the laptop and USB memory sticks were confiscated on June 29 when Mr. Metsos was arrested trying to board a flight to Budapest. The items were not returned to Mr. Metsos after a Cyprus court released him on $33,000 bail on June 30, after which he promptly disappeared.

Mr. Metsos is wanted in the U.S. on charges that he supplied money to a spy ring that operated under deep cover in the suburbs. He arrived in Cyprus on June 17, traveling on a Canadian passport.


Israel to let most goods into Gaza

JERUSALEM | Israel dropped its long-standing restrictions on allowing consumer goods into the Gaza Strip on Monday but retained limits on desperately needed construction materials, redefining the rules of its heavily criticized Gaza embargo on the eve of the Israeli prime minister’s trip to the White House.

The new rules, which come in response to an international outcry after a deadly Israeli raid on a blockade-busting protest flotilla, should bring some relief to Gaza’s 1.5 million people.

Yossi Gal, director-general of Israel’s Foreign Ministry, announced the changes Monday, saying the government had made “a very serious effort” to make a “very clear distinction between the security needs of Israel, that we are committed to keep, and everything else.”

But Palestinians and human rights activists were skeptical because of the remaining restrictions.

The decision ends the use of a narrow and often arbitrary list of foods and consumer goods allowed into Gaza. And in a boost to the moribund Gaza economy, Israel announced that some raw materials would soon be allowed to flow to Gaza’s shuttered factories.


McCain: War plan may get ‘tweaking’

KABUL | Sen. John McCain said Monday that incoming commander Gen. David H. Petraeus could tweak strategy in the nearly nine-year war in Afghanistan, after two days of talks and battlefield tours.

Mr. McCain, Arizona Republican, said the new commander of U.S. and NATO forces indicated there could be adjustments to a war plan seen by many analysts as bogged down to the Taliban’s advantage.

“General Petraeus is reviewing the entire rules of engagement, and probably there will be some tweaking. We got that impression from him,” Mr. McCain told reporters at a Kabul airport.

Gen. Petraeus arrived in Kabul on Friday to take over NATO’s 47-nation International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) from Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, sacked last month by President Obama for insubordination.

Troops have complained that Gen. McChrystal’s “courageous restraint” rule, aimed at minimizing civilian casualties, prevents them from properly defending themselves — thus contributing to a spike in military casualties.


Clinton vows support for Georgia

TBILISI | Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton reassured Georgia on Monday with a pledge of steadfast support and called on Russia to end its “occupation” of two breakaway Georgian regions.

“The United States is steadfast in its commitment to Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Mrs. Clinton said at a joint news conference with President Mikheil Saakashvili during a visit.

Mrs. Clinton also urged Moscow to abide by a cease-fire agreement that stipulates its forces must return to positions held before the 2008 Georgia-Russia war.


Komorowski wins presidential vote

WARSAW | Liberal Bronislaw Komorowski won Poland’s presidential runoff vote, scoring 53.01 percent against conservative rival Jaroslaw Kaczynski’s 46.99 percent, official results said Monday.

Turnout in Sunday’s snap ballot sparked by the air-crash death in April of Mr. Kaczynski’s twin, the late president Lech Kaczynski, was 55.31 percent, state elections commission chief Stefan Jaworski told reporters in Warsaw.

Mr. Kaczynski had conceded defeat and congratulated Mr. Komorowski late on Sunday after hearing the results of exit polls — although partial results at one point overnight had briefly put Mr. Kaczynski in the lead.


Southern Movement seeks protests in Aden

ADEN | Yemen’s separatist Southern Movement called for “a day of rage” on Wednesday in the tightly patrolled city of Aden to mark the 16th anniversary of the invasion of the south by northern forces.

The Supreme Council for the Peaceful Movement to Liberate the South issued a statement on Monday calling on all southerners to “make Wednesday a day of rage” to express “our people’s determination to continue their peaceful struggle until liberation and independence.”

The group also appealed to southerners to participate in the funeral of a fellow townsman, Ahmed Mohammed Darwish, who died Friday in a prison in Aden, the capital of formerly independent South Yemen.

Mr. Darwish was “killed by San’a’s occupying regime inside a prison cell,” the statement said.

He had died a day after he was detained along with dozens of others, after a suspected al Qaeda attack in the city’s intelligence headquarters on June 19.

Eleven people, including seven military personnel, were killed in the attack, officials had said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports



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