- The Washington Times - Friday, March 19, 2010

MYANMAR

U.S. citizen freed, deported

YANGON | A U.S. citizen accused of subversion was released from prison in his native Myanmar and deported Thursday after serving part of a three-year prison sentence.

The aunt of Kyaw Zaw Lwin, also known as Nyi Nyi Aung, said he was released after 6 1/2 months in prison and taken to Yangon’s international airport for a flight to Thailand.

Khin Khin Swe said her nephew was accompanied to the airport by a U.S. consular official.

“We can confirm that Kyaw Zaw Lwin has been released from prison and has left the country,” the U.S. Embassy said. “We welcome that development.”

The 40-year-old was arrested Sept. 3 on arrival at the same airport. He was initially accused of plotting to stir up political unrest, which he denied.

He was sentenced in October for forging a national identity card, for possession of undeclared foreign currency, and for violating Myanmar’s so-called Resident Registration Act, under which he was accused of failing to renounce his Myanmar citizenship when he became a U.S. citizen and failure to inform authorities of his new address.

PAKISTAN

Expanding lake threatens thousands

ATTABAD | The water is rising day by day in this remote part of northern Pakistan, and with it, so is the fear among thousands who stand to lose their crops, their homes and maybe even their lives.

A massive landslide early this year formed a natural dam in the Hunza River, creating a lake that is consuming upstream villages as it expands. If the dam breaks, a flash flood could threaten downstream villages too. The landslide also has blocked the Karakoram Highway, a vital trade link to China, cutting off 25,000 people in the Upper Hunza Valley.

The crisis is another headache for the weak, U.S.-allied government in Islamabad, already struggling to contain a spreading al Qaeda and Taliban militancy.

KAZAKHSTAN

Soyuz spacecraft lands safely

ALMATY | Astronauts from the United States and Russia landed safely in northern Kazakhstan’s chilly steppes on Thursday after spending almost six months on the International Space Station.

The Russian Soyuz TMA-16 capsule carrying NASA astronaut Jeff Williams and Russian Maxim Surayev touched down gently and was then rolled onto its side by brisk winds near the town of Arkalyk.

Several Russian Mi-8 helicopters, which had hovered in a circle above the landing zone ahead of touchdown, immediately reached the capsule with the astronauts strapped inside.

AUSTRALIA

Senate rejects Scientology inquiry call

CANBERRA | Australia’s Senate on Thursday overwhelming rejected a call for an inquiry into allegations against the Church of Scientology made by former members who claim to have been abused, harassed or coerced into having abortions.

Sen. Nick Xenophon’s motion to authorize a Senate committee to hold a wide-reaching inquiry into the church that was founded in 1953 by the late U.S. science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard attracted only six votes in the 76-seat chamber. Another 33 voted against it, and the remaining senators abstained.

The church welcomed the Senate’s rejection of what the church described as a “political witch hunt.”

“Allegations by some women that they were forced to have abortions are nonsense,” the church said from its Australian headquarters in Sydney.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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