Group sues over spy tech
A human rights group is suing the government over the export of sophisticated surveillance technology that has been used to spy on dissidents in Bahrain and elsewhere. Privacy International said yesterday it had filed a lawsuit before London’s High Court over the government’s refusal to say whether it was investigating Gamma International, whose FinFisher software has been linked to use in more than two dozen countries, including Bahrain, Egypt, Ethiopia, Turkmenistan and Vietnam. Privacy International argues that the export of FinFisher software may be illegal and has demanded officials investigate.
Let women drive: prince
Prince Al Waleed bin Talal, a nephew of King Abdullah, has thrown his support behind allowing women to drive, saying it makes economic sense. Women are barred from driving in the kingdom — leaving them reliant on mostly foreign drivers. “[The question of] women driving will result in dispensing with at least 500,000 foreign drivers, and that has an economic and social impact for the country,” the prince said on his Twitter account on Sunday.
Regime issues amnesty
President Bashar al-Assad has issued a general amnesty for crimes committed in the war-torn country prior to yesterday, state news agency SANA reported. Under the decree, “the death penalty will be replaced with a life sentence of hard labor,” the agency said. Al-Assad has issued several amnesty decrees since an uprising against his regime erupted in March 2011. The latest will not apply to people found guilty of smuggling weapons or drug-related crimes.
School claims tsunami boat
A small boat that washed up in northern California after the massive 2011 tsunami that hit Japan has been claimed by a city that was devastated in the disaster. The Triplicate newspaper in Crescent City, California, reports that officials in the Japanese city of Rikuzentakata are in a “giddy state of shock” and would love to get the boat back. Rikuzentakata spokeswoman Amya Miller says hours after photographs of the 6m boat were posted to Crescent City’s Facebook page, a teacher from a Japanese high school’s marine sciences program said the vessel was theirs. Humboldt State University geologist Lori Dengler says she posted the photographs recently after a university librarian translated the name of the high school from the boat.
Police jailed for spying
An Alaska-based military policeman was sentenced to 16 years in prison and will receive a dishonorable discharge for selling military secrets to an undercover FBI agent posing as a Russian spy, a military panel decided. A panel of eight military members from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage recommended a 19-year sentence for Specialist William Colton Millay, but that was dropped to 16 years because of a pretrial agreement. He will receive credit for the 535 days he has been jailed since his Oct. 28, 2011, arrest. The panel also reduced him in rank to private and he will forfeit all pay and allowances. The 24-year-old Millay pleaded guilty last month to attempted espionage and other counts. Military prosecutors painted Millay as a white supremacist who was fed up with the army and the country, and was willing to sell secrets to an enemy agent, even if that would cost his fellow soldiers their lives.