Hacker will not face court
A British hacker, whose extradition to face charges of accessing nearly 100 US government computers in a quest for UFOs was halted on grounds he might harm himself, will not be tried in Britain, the prosecution office said on Friday. Gary McKinnon, 46, diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, has admitted hacking into Pentagon and NASA computers under the pseudonym “Solo,” saying he was looking for evidence of flying saucers and other extraterrestrial activity. He has been fighting extradition since police arrested him in 2005 and Home Secretary Theresa May blocked his extradition in October because of the high risk he could kill himself. She referred the matter to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to rule if he should be tried at home. The CPS said on Friday the chances of a conviction were “not high” and cited logistical difficulties in pursuing a case in England and Wales.
‘China Daily’ goes to Africa
China launched an African edition of its China Daily newspaper on Friday, the latest media venture by Beijing on the continent. “The relationship between China and the African continent is one of the most significant relationships in the world today,” publisher and editor-in-chief of the state-run paper Zhu Ling wrote in the inaugural copy. “It is growing and complex and not always understood ... we hope to set that right,” he added. The weekly paper will “look in depth at what the precise nature of Chinese involvement in Africa is, and also at the prominent role many Africans are now playing in China itself,” Ling added. Published in the Kenyan capital, but to be sold across the continent, it follows the opening earlier this year of a production center of China Central Television (CCTV) in Kenya, the first outside of China.
Former policeman gets jail
A Russian court on Friday sentenced a former policeman to 11 years in jail for his role in the 2006 killing of Anna Politkovskaya, a journalist and critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov was sentenced for tracking Politkovskaya’s movements and giving the killer the gun used to kill her in her apartment building in central Moscow. The case has become emblematic of attempts to silence dissent under Putin. Politkovskaya, who was 58, was killed on the president’s 54th birthday. Politkovskaya had made enemies with her reporting on corruption across Russia and human rights abuses in Chechnya. Pavlyuchenkov had struck a plea bargain for a reduced sentence, but Politkovskaya’s children have said he should be forced to reveal the names of the people who ordered the killing.
‘Casablanca’ piano sold
The piano used for the song As Times Goes By in the classic 1942 film Casablanca has fetched more than US$600,000 at auction. The 58-key upright was sold to an unidentified buyer for US$602,500 at Sotheby’s New York on Friday. It was offered by a Japanese collector on the film’s 70th anniversary. The collector purchased the movie prop at a Sotheby’s auction in 1988 for US$154,000. Humphrey Bogart played Rick Blaine in the Oscar-winning World War II love story, opposite Ingrid Bergman’s character, Ilsa Lund. In a famous flashback scene, Rick and Ilsa lean on the piano at a Paris bistro. Sam, played by Dooley Wilson, plays and sings. They toast as Rick says: “Here’s looking at you, kid.”