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Leaked diplomatic cables, if genuine, could offer rare glimpse into the kingdom’s famously opaque inner workings
WikiLeaks is in the process of publishing more than 500,000 Saudi diplomatic documents to the Internet, the transparency website said Friday, a move that echoes its famous release of U.S. State Department cables in 2010.
WikiLeaks issued a statement saying it has already posted roughly 60,000 files. Most of them appear to be in Arabic.
There was no immediate way to verify the authenticity of the documents, although WikiLeaks has a long track record of hosting large-scale leaks of government material. Many of the documents carried green letterhead marked "Kingdom of Saudi Arabia" or "Ministry of Foreign Affairs." Some were marked "urgent" or "classified." At least one appeared to be from the Saudi Embassy in Washington.
If genuine, the documents would offer a rare glimpse into the inner workings of the notoriously opaque kingdom. They might also shed light on Riyadh's longstanding regional rivalry with Iran, its support for Syrian rebels and Egypt's military-backed government, and its opposition to an emerging international agreement on Tehran's nuclear program.
One of the documents, dated to 2012, appears to highlight Saudi Arabia's well-known skepticism about the Iranian nuclear talks. A message from the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Tehran to the Foreign Ministry in Riyadh describes "flirting American messages" being carried to Iran via an unnamed Turkish mediator.
Another 2012 missive, this time sent from the Saudi Embassy in Abu Dhabi, said the United Arab Emirates was putting "heavy pressure" on the Egyptian government not to try former President Hosni Mubarak, who had been overthrown in a popular uprising the year before.
Some of the concerns appear specific to Saudi Arabia.
In an Aug. 14, 2008 message marked "classified and very urgent," the Foreign Ministry wrote to the Saudi Embassy in Washington to warn that dozens of students from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries had visited the Israeli Embassy in the U.S. capital as part of an international leadership program.
"They listened to diplomats' briefings from the embassy employees, they asked questions and then they took pictures," the message said, asking the embassy for a speedy update on the situation.
Another item was a document addressed to the interior and justice ministers, notifying them that a son of Osama bin Laden had obtained a certificate from the American Embassy in Riyadh "showing death of his father."
Many more of the dozens of documents examined by The Associated Press appeared to be the product of mundane administrative work, such as emails about setting up a website or operating an office fax machine.
The AP was not immediately able to reach anyone whose phone numbers or email addresses were published in the various documents, but WikiLeaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson told the AP he was confident the material was genuine.
It is not clear how WikiLeaks got the documents, although in its statement the website referred to a recent electronic attack on the Saudi Foreign Ministry by a group calling itself the Yemen Cyber Army. Hrafnsson declined to elaborate on the statement, or to say whether the hackers subsequently passed documents on to WikiLeaks.
"As a matter of policy we're not going to discuss the source of the material," he said.
The Saudi Embassy in Washington did not immediately return messages seeking comment.
In its statement, WikiLeaks said the release coincided with the third anniversary of its founder, Julian Assange, seeking asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.
Assange took refuge in the embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning about alleged sex crimes. Assange has denied any wrongdoing.
Uttar Pradesh minister in charge of dairy development, Ram Murti Verma, has been charged with murder after a Shahjahanpur-based journalist, who had mounted on social media a relentless campaign again him, died of burn injuries late Monday evening.
Jagendra Singh, his family alleged on Tuesday, was set on fire by a bunch of cops and goons sent by Verma on June 1, at his house. The scribe had been struggling for life for the past week at a hospital in Lucknow.
Police have now filed an FIR against the minister and 4 others, including the Kotwali station in-charge, under Sections 302 (murder), 504 (insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace), 506 (criminal intimidation) and 120 B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC.
IPS officer claims he has 'dying declaration' of the victim
Singh had written extensively about the plight of an Aganwadi worker who had told a court recently that she had been gang-raped by the minister and some of his henchmen. In his dying declaration, cops said, the journalist blamed Verma for ordering the attack and narrated how a similar attempt had been made on his life on April 28.
"They (the raiding police team) had a heated argument with my father, caught hold of him, poured petrol over his body and set him on fire," Raghvendra Singh, the slain journalist's son, told TOI on Tuesday. "My father had incurred the minister's wrath for taking up the case of the Anganwadi worker ."
The woman had recently pleaded with a local court that an FIR against the accused be registered for the crime allegedly committed on May 5 this year. Verma has then blamed "political rivals" and the now-deceased journalist of "orchestrating the incident and planting the case" against him.
Jagendra Singh's family alleged that on Tuesday, Singh was set on fire at his Shahjanpur house by a bunch of cops and goons sent by minister Ram Murti Verma
Afghanistan's Supreme Court has ruled that the police officer convicted of murdering Associated Press photographer Anja Niedringhaus and wounding AP correspondent Kathy Gannon almost one year ago should serve 20 years in prison.
The ruling against former Afghan police unit commander Naqibullah was revealed in documents sent to Afghanistan’s attorney general on March 28.
The final sentence was reduced from the death penalty that had been recommended in 2014 by a trial court.
Twenty years in prison is the maximum jail sentence in Afghanistan.
Naqibullah, who uses only one name, opened fire on Niedringhaus and Gannon without warning on April 4, 2014 as the two were covering the first round of Afghanistan’s presidential election outside the southeastern city of Khost.
Niedringhaus was killed instantly.
Gannon, a senior AP correspondent with decades of experience in Pakistan and Afghanistan, was hit by six bullets.
She is recovering from her injuries in her native Canada.
Egypt's top prosecutor on Sunday named 18 Muslim Brotherhood members, including the group's leader and his deputy, as terrorists in the first implementation of an anti-terror law passed earlier this year.
In a statement, chief prosecutor Hisham Barakat said the decision follows a February court ruling that convicted Brotherhood leader Mohammed Badie; his deputy Khairat el-Shater; the head of the group's political party Saad el-Katatni and others of orchestrating violence in 2013 that killed 11 people and wounded over 90 outside their office.
The clashes were at the start of mass protests against President Mohammed Morsi, also a member of the group, and days before the military ousted him.
Badie, el-Shater and el-Katatni along with senior leaders Mohammed el-Beltagy, Essam el-Erian and nine others were sentenced to life in prison. Another four were sentenced to death. The sentences can be appealed.
But the new law, passed in February, allows prosecutors to freeze assets of the designated terrorists, barring them from public life or travel for renewable three-year periods based on the preliminary verdict and with the approval of a panel of judges.
The law also broadens the state's definition of terrorism to include anyone who threatens public order "by any means."
The law drew criticism from rights groups who charged that it expands the state arsenal of legislation empowering authorities to go after political opponents with few, if any, options to redress miscarriages of justice.
The government says it needs the law in its campaign against an expanding insurgency by militant groups, including one that has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group fighting in Iraq and Syria. Some of these groups say they are avenging the military's ouster of Islamists from power and the subsequent crackdown on supporters.
On Sunday, a militant group known as Ajnad Misr, or "Egypt's soldiers" claimed responsibility for a bombing a day earlier in front of Cairo University that wounded eight people, including four police officers.
The group said in a statement posted on a militant website that it planted the bomb targeting police officers and private security guards at the university entrance.
The government blames the Brotherhood for the violence, saying the group is seeking to destabilize the government after Morsi's ouster.
The group denies the charges while its leaders largely languish in jail or have escaped the country to avoid the crackdown.
US security staff shot a knife-wielding man three times at New Orleans international airport after he tried to storm a checkpoint, officials say.
They say the man, named as Richard White, 62, attacked an airport security worker with wasp spray before striking another on the arm with a large knife.
Police said he was "unresponsive" after being shot in the leg, chest and face but was taken to a local hospital.
Several bystanders were said to have been treated for minor injuries.
Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand told reporters it was unclear whether White was at the airport as a traveller. "We're still piecing together witness interviews," he said.
He said White, a taxi driver, had "little or no criminal history". He was alive and in surgery, Sheriff Normand added.
Those making their way to and from flights in the busy terminal reported chaotic scenes as the incident unfolded.
Jeremy Didier, who had just arrived on a flight from Florida, said he saw a man "jumping over people" in the queue at the boarding pass checkpoint.
Two gunshots rang out and "everyone hit the floor," he told The Times-Picayune, a New Orleans newspaper.
Farah Stockman, a journalist for the Boston Globe who was in the airport at the time, tweeted: "Just witnessed the craziest thing."
"People had heard gunshots. Everyone was hiding behind chairs and in doorways. Make our way to exit. Body was lying in a pool of blood."
Authorities said the area where the attack took place would be closed off until Saturday but confirmed that rest of the airport remained open.
(Bloomberg) -- The next big threat to oil prices isn’t from OPEC or Bakken shale. It’s Russian samovars, or teapots.
Simple refineries that process crude into fuel oil are scaling back, because when oil prices slump, the government reduces the discount that these refiners -- known as teapots to those in the industry -- get for exporting fuel. They use less crude, freeing it up for sale abroad, which in turn adds to the global glut.
Russia may increase oil exports by as much as 250,000 barrels a day this year, according to James Henderson, a senior research fellow at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies who’s followed the country’s energy industry for more than 20 years. That would equate to 5 percent growth in shipments, the most in at least a decade.
“The pain Russia is feeling from low oil prices has made more crude available for export,” Henderson said by phone March 18. “Quite a few of Russia’s simple refineries could reduce their runs.”
Rising shipments from Russia, which ranks with Saudi Arabia and the U.S. as the world’s biggest oil producers, would put more pressure on crude, already down more than 50 percent from last year. Falling energy prices and U.S. and European Union sanctions imposed last year in response to the Ukraine crisis have pushed Russia to the brink of recession, damping demand for refined fuel products in the country.
Brent was up 74 cents to $55.17 a barrel at 3:26 p.m. in London. It slid 2.7 percent to $54.43 on Thursday. Crude loadings from Russian ports are 9.5 percent higher in the first quarter year over year, according to shipment schedules obtained by Bloomberg.
Teapot refineries processed as much as 800,000 barrels of crude a day last year, Igor Dyomin, a spokesman for Russia’s state-run pipeline operator, OAO Transneft, said by phone March 19. A teapot refinery is one that produces mostly fuel oil rather than more premium fuels, according to Dyomin.
Seven simple plants with a combined capacity of 1.2 million barrels a day are most at risk in the current price environment, according to Henderson.
There could be sporadic cuts to refining of 400,000 barrels a day during the next few months’ maintenance season, with much of the unused oil exported, putting more pressure on crude prices, according to JBC Energy GmbH, a Vienna-based consulting company whose clients include OPEC.
The additional barrels would arrive as the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, whose 12 members produce about 40 percent of the world’s oil, sticks to plans it announced in November to maintain its own output in response to the global supply glut. The move has yet to lead to a drop in production by the biggest non-OPEC countries.
U.S. output, fed by growth in hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling in the Bakken and elsewhere, has soared to 9.42 million barrels a day, the most in more than 30 years, even as oil companies scale back investment and the number of active rigs drops to the lowest since 2011.
When crude prices slide, so too does the size of Russian tax discounts for exporting fuel oil that’s used by ships, power plants or further processing. Refiners save about $25 a ton selling the product instead of crude at current prices. The saving would be about $62 a ton if crude was at its 2014 average of about $100 a barrel, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
The possible growth in exports may be reversed because the refineries hurt by the current duty system are trying to get it changed.
Igor Sechin, chief executive of OAO Rosneft, the world’s biggest publicly-traded oil producer, told Russian President Vladimir Putin in February that this year’s tax changes had changed the economics of refining, and sought state financial support for a refinery project.
Russian crude exports averaged 4.84 million barrels a day last year, a 6.1 percent drop compared with 2013. The biggest annual increase in the past decade was 3.6 percent in 2009.
Rosneft said in a January presentation that simple refineries that produce a high percentage of fuel oil are only marginally profitable at $85 a barrel and start losing money with Brent crude at $50.
“When oil prices were high, it was profitable to sell fuel oil abroad and get a big tax discount,” Transneft’s Dyomin said. “We called it ‘spoiled crude’ because the product they produced was less valuable than the oil they used to make it. Now, the tables have turned.”
The breakdown in security across Yemen has put the country’s media in particular danger. All sides in Yemen should send a clear message to their forces to stop threats and attacks against journalists.
Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director
(Sanaa) – Houthi forces and others in Yemen have committed a spate of attacks and other abuses against the media amid deteriorating political and security conditions.
In recent weeks, there has been an increase in arbitrary arrests and violence against journalists and other media workers by Ansar Allah, the Zaidi Shia armed group known as the Houthis that now controls the capital, Sanaa. Armed Ansar Allah militia has stormed the headquarters of three media outlets since January 2015. Other groups may also be involved in attacks. On March 18, unidentified gunmen killed Abdul Karim Mohammed al-Khaiwani, an Ansar Allah supporter and critic of the former government, near his home in Sanaa.
“The breakdown in security across Yemen has put the country’s media in particular danger,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director. “All sides in Yemen should send a clear message to their forces to stop threats and attacks against journalists.”
Ansar Allah has controlled much of northern Yemen since September 2014, and in January 2015 effectively ousted President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi, sparking widespread protests. On February 8, Yemen’s interim interior minister ordered Sanaa police to prevent all unauthorized demonstrations due to “the exceptional circumstances” in Yemen. This indefinite ban on public protests violates the right to peaceful assembly, Human Rights Watch said. Five employees of state broadcast and print media outlets told Human Rights Watch that since taking control of Sanaa, Ansar Allah has inserted its own people into senior positions at various media outlets.
Human Rights Watch documented seven incidents involving attacks on journalists and the media between December 31, 2014, and March 7, 2015. Ma`d al-Zekri, a cameraman for Azal TV, told Human Rights Watch that armed men took him and his 20-year-old brother from their home at 1:30 a.m. on December 31, 2014, blindfolded them, and drove them to a building where the men held the brothers in separate rooms. Al-Zekri said a man interrogated him about a news clip he had made about the Islamist militant group Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) that had aired in October, and demanded to know where an AQAP leader al-Zekri had interviewed could be found.
The cameraman said he was kept blindfolded, given electric shocks, had dirty water poured over him, and was given food and a restroom visit only once each day. “On the third day some men came in, apologized for having detained me, and said it had been a mistake,” al-Zekri told Human Rights Watch. They then warned him “not to write about or against Al-Qaeda as much,” and freed him and his brother. Al-Zekri filed a complaint with the police and the attorney general but the authorities told him they could do nothing and he should take his complaint to Ansar Allah directly.
Kamal Gamal of Suhail TV told Human Rights Watch that armed men in civilian clothes detained him and a cameraman, Yahya al-A`awar, on February 3, 2015, as they filmed a political polling process among students at Sanaa University. Gamal said the two men spoke into walkie talkies, told them that no photography or filming was permitted, and detained them when they kept filming. The armed men held the two journalists on the campus until police came and took them to a police station. Hours later, the police returned their equipment and released them.
Saif al-Haddiri, chairman of the al-Shumoa Press Foundation, which prints four publications, told Human Rights Watch that about 40 armed men believed to be Ansar Allah forced their way into the foundation’s offices on February 5. They ordered all staff to leave the five-story building, then seized computers, broadcasting and other equipment, videos, and CDs whose total value he estimated at US$18,600. Some wore military-style uniforms while others were in civilian clothes and carried slogans in support of Ansar Allah. More than a month later, the men still control the foundation’s building and continue to remove property from it, al-Haddiri said.
Ameen Dabwan, a correspondent for Yemen Shabab TV, told Human Rights Watch that five armed men in police uniforms with Ansar Allah stickers detained him on February 6 as he filmed an anti-Ansar Allah demonstration in Sanaa’s Change Square. They took his camera and later his cell phone and detained him overnight at the police station with five arrested protesters, threatening to beat them. Police released him after 24 hours but did not return his camera or his phone.
Nabil al-Sharabi, an editor at Akhbar al-Yom newspaper, told Human Rights Watch that on March 5, five men carrying assault rifles bearing Ansar Allah stickers broke into the building housing the newspaper’s staff. One wore a Special Security Forces uniform, while the others were in civilian clothes. They took him and four colleagues to the newspaper’s office in the building next door, where they forced him at gunpoint to sign a pledge not to “engage in any acts that opposed them.” They released him four hours later but still hold one of his colleagues, he said.
A Suhail TV correspondent, Hisham Hadi, told Human Rights Watch that 12 armed men in military and Special Security Forces uniforms, accompanied by 6 others in civilian clothes, seized him on March 7 as he covered a protest in Ibb, a city south of Sanaa. He said the men drove him to a private residence that they used as an unofficial detention facility where other men blindfolded, questioned, and insulted him. They released him on March 9.
Abdulrahman al-Nahari, owner of Widian FM radio station and a media services and production business in Hodaida, a port city west of Sanaa, told Human Rights Watch that about two dozen armed men in civilian clothes who said they were acting on behalf of Ansar Allah forced their way into his company’s offices on March 11. They left after three hours, but the next day an Ansar Allah leader in Hodaida told him that his outlet could no longer broadcast unless he pledged to “not broadcast any content critical” about Ansar Allah.
The Yemeni Journalists’ Syndicate has reported that Ansar Allah fighters beat at least 10 journalists, cameramen, and photographers as they covered protests between January 25 and February 25, arbitrarily detaining seven of them for various periods, and seized and smashed cameras. The Freedom Foundation, a Yemeni group that monitors press freedom, reported at least 49 attacks on the media in January.
In 2013, Human Rights Watch reported in “‘A Life-Threatening Career’: Attacks on Journalists under Yemen’s New Government” that Yemenis had gained greater freedom of expression since Hadi replaced Ali Abdullah Saleh as president in February 2012, but that this had also brought a rise in threats and violence against the media by various political groups, including Ansar Allah, Saleh supporters, and state security forces.
“These latest attacks on journalists and the media are one indicator of the desperate state of affairs in Yemen,” Stork said. “Basic security will only get worse until there’s a government in place capable of restoring the rule of law and respect for human rights.”
China invades Iran for its oil and Iran retaliates by firing a nuclear warhead. As the crisis rages, North Korea threatens its own nuclear reprisal...
GOTHENBURG, SWEDEN, December 29, 2014 /EINPresswire.com/ -- SWNS.com says this about Twilight Visitor... "Twilight Visitor is quickly becoming a cult classic on Amazon..."
Twilight Visitor embraces a global scenario, a techno-thriller that challenges the reader to face the reality of nuclear threat and the sparking-points where such a threat can become reality; as China invades Iran for its oil and Iran retaliates by firing a nuclear warhead on Beijing. As the crisis spirals upward, North Korea throws-in with its own threat of nuclear reprisal should any nation interfere with China, causing an international panic as global powers are suddenly helpless to stop the imminent debacle.
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Book-Reviewer.com says this...
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Author, Réal Laplaine, was born in Montreal, Canada, later moving to America where he worked for many years. He now lives in Sweden. www.booksbyreallaplaine.com
Author, Real Laplaine