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WikiLeaks’ Assange free on bail, vows to clear name

In Uncategorized on December 17, 2010 at 5:26 am

LONDON (AFP) – WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange vowed to clear his name and pursue his work releasing secret documents, as he enjoyed his first day of freedom Friday after being released on bail by a British court.


“I hope to continue my work and continue to protest my innocence in this matter and to reveal as we get it — which we have not yet — the evidence from these allegations,” Assange said Thursday on the steps of the High Court where he was greeted by a media scrum.


Assange and his lawyers insist that moves to extradite him from Britain to Sweden to face questioning over allegations he sexually assaulted two women are politically motivated.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange celebrates as he prepares to address the media outside the High Court in central London. AFP

Amid a hail of camera flashes outside the London court, Assange thanked “all the people around the world who have had faith in me, who have supported my team while I have been away.”


His website has rocked Washington by releasing hundreds of classified US diplomatic cables, and his supporters have linked his detention to the massive leak.


The 39-year-old Australian arrived later at a country mansion in eastern England, where he will stay while on bail, and spoke of his joy at being released.


“It is very nice to be free for Christmas and to smell the fresh air,” he told reporters, outside the manor house which is a marked difference from the cell in London’s Wandsworth prison where he had spent the past nine days.


But he criticised his stringent bail conditions, which include wearing a security tag and being under the curfew, telling the BBC: “It is a very Orwellian situation when you are under hi-tech house arrest.”


He is staying at Ellingham Hall, a mansion on the 600-acre country estate of Vaughan Smith, an ex-British army officer who founded the Frontline Club, the media club in London that is the British base of WikiLeaks’ operations.


Assange will stay there during the ongoing extradition proceedings, which may take months.


The WikiLeaks chief also voiced fears over US attempts to pursue him, saying that he had heard rumours the United States was preparing an indictment for espionage.


“We have also heard today from one of my US lawyers, yet to be confirmed… that there may be a US indictment for espionage for me coming from a secret US grand jury investigation,” he told Sky News.


He expressed fears that the extradition proceedings to Sweden may actually be “an attempt to get me into a jurisdiction which will then make it easier to extradite me to the US.”


Swedish prosecutors have denied the case has anything to do with WikiLeaks.


Earlier Thursday, Assange’s release was delayed by several hours, apparently by haggling over the availability of the 240,000-pound (283,000-euro, 374,000-dollar) surety which has been put up by supporters including film director Michael Moore.


A senior judge had earlier rejected an appeal by lawyers working on behalf of Sweden to keep him in jail pending extradition.


Assange’s mother, Christine, and supporters including campaigning journalist John Pilger, had packed into the courtroom for the hour-and-a-half hearing along with hordes of journalists.


“I’m very, very happy with the decision. I can’t wait to see my son and to hold him close,” Christine Assange said.


Assange, a former computer hacker, was in court to hear the senior judge reject an appeal against a ruling Tuesday by a lower court that he be bailed.


Judge Duncan Ouseley rejected the prosecution’s argument that Assange was a flight risk, saying: “The court does not approach this case on the basis that this is a fugitive from justice who seeks to avoid interrogation and prosecution.”


In arguing the accusations are unfounded, Assange’s supporters cite the timing of his arrest, which coincided with the release by WikiLeaks of thousands of confidential US diplomatic cables.


The latest US cables to be released by WikiLeaks on Friday show that American officials had evidence of torture by Indian security forces and were briefed by Red Cross staff about the abuse of detainees in Kashmir.


The International Committee of the Red Cross briefed diplomats in Delhi in 2005 about the use of electrocution, beatings and sexual humiliation against detainees, according to the cables, revealed in Britain’s Guardian newspaper.

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Source: SGGP

Obama to name ex-general Clapper as new spy chief

In Uncategorized on June 5, 2010 at 2:26 pm

WASHINGTON, June 4, 2010 (AFP) – President Barack Obama will name retired lieutenant general and veteran intelligence expert James Clapper on Saturday as his new spy chief, officials said, in a bid to improve troubled US intelligence gathering.


Clapper, a retired lieutenant general decades of intelligence experience, would replace Dennis Blair, who stepped down last month amid heavy criticism after a string of security shortcomings, among them failure to thwart planned attacks including one by an Al-Qaeda linked group to bring down a US airliner on December 25.


Several intelligence and administration officials confirmed to AFP that Clapper will be nominated Saturday as the director of national intelligence (DNI), including one defense official who said he enjoys strong backing from Defense Secretary Robert Gates.


The post was introduced after September 11, 2001 amid deep congressional concern over the systemic lapses which led to the terrorist attacks on the United States, and then the botched intelligence over Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction which helped prod the US invasion of Iraq but which were never found.


DNI oversees the 16 agencies that make up the US intelligence community, including the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency.


Clapper is currently undersecretary of defense for intelligence, the top intelligence post at the Pentagon, as well as the director of defense intelligence, which reports directly to the DNI and therefore gives him comprehensive knowledge of the post for which he is being nominated.


If confirmed, Clapper would become the fourth DNI since the cabinet-level position’s creation five years ago.


The defense official said the administration encountered some resistance initially in Congress over the nomination but he believes key lawmakers have come around in support.


Clapper has already ruffled some feathers on Capitol Hill, with key lawmakers warning he is not transparent in his dealings with Congress.


Senator Kit Bond, vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a statement: “He lacks the necessary clout with the president, has proven to be less than forthcoming with Congress, and has recently blocked our efforts to empower the DNI, which is why at this time I’m not inclined to support him.”


But Senator Joe Lieberman, an independent who co-authored legislation in 2004 to create the position, quickly applauded Obama’s choice.


“General Clapper has vast experience in the intelligence community, has a proven record as an administrator and has always been a proponent of a strong DNI,” Lieberman said.


Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller said he believed Clapper would be “up to the task,” but strongly hinted at the scrutiny that lawmakers will pay to the nomination.


Clapper retired from the US Air Force in 1995 after a 32-year career, and spent much of the following years working for private defense contractors and teaching.


But he also has held key intelligence positions, including serving from September 2001 to 2006 as the first civilian head of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, which collects and analyzes data from commercial and government satellites or aircraft, among other sources.


Clapper has been nicknamed “the Godfather of HUMINT” — using human contacts for gathering intelligence in addition to high-tech methods like satellite imagery or intercepting communications.


DNI and the other intellegence agencies came under blistering criticism in recent months for failing to connect the dots about a Nigerian man suspected of bringing an explosive device in his underwear onto a US-bound passenger jet on Christmas Day, as well as for other intelligence failures over planned attacks on New York city. 

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Source: SGGP

Hotel chain to promote its brand name at Highlands coffee shops

In Vietnam Economy on March 11, 2010 at 5:03 am




Hotel chain to promote its brand name at Highlands coffee shops


QĐND – Wednesday, March 10, 2010, 20:25 (GMT+7)

The Board of Managers of Mercure Hotel Chain announced on March 9th a joint cooperation programme with Highlands Coffee shops to promote its brand name in Vietnam.


The programme is aimed at advertising Viet Thai International Joint Stock Company’s Trung Nguyen, one of the Vietnamese leading coffee brands, and Accor Hotel Management Group’s Mercure brand name in Vietnam.


According to Tony Chisholm, CEO of Mercure Da Lat Du Parc Hotel, through the programme, customers tasting Jelly Freeze coffee at Highlands coffee shops will have a chance to win prizes offered by Mercure Hotel Chain.


Mercure Hotel brand name will be introduced at around 70 Highlands coffee shops in cities nationwide, said Raphaela T.Galang, Viet Thai International Company’s Retail Director.


Source: thesaigontimes


Translated by Vu Hung


Source: QDND