Headlines for Friday, January 18, 2013
- Year: 2013
- Length: 5:25 minutes (4.97 MB)
- Format: MP3 Mono 44kHz 128Kbps (CBR)
Hostage situation continues in Algeria
The hostage situation continues today at an Algerian gas field, where militants still hold an unconfirmed number of workers. It’s also unknown how many people have been killed. The US today confirmed American citizens are still hostages. The Al Qaeda-linked militants are reportedly offering the US a prisoner swap, demanding the release of two people convicted for terrorism and murder – one, Aafia Siddiqui, and the other the organizer of the New York World Trade Center bombing in 1993. But State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland stated emphatically the US stance today: “The US does not negotiate with terrorists.” Reuters reports the militants involved in the attack are of several nationalities, including French, Malian and Egyptian.
Crimes against humanity being investigated in Mali
Fighting is escalating in northern Mali between Islamist militants and government forces backed by French soldiers. Today, there are reports that the government had regained control of two towns recently taken by the militants. The first wave of regional troops has also landed in the capital. The International Criminal Court has already announced it will open an investigation into human rights violations allegedly being committed in Northern Mali, including extrajudicial killings, rape and torture. Rupert Colville is UN Human Rights spokesperson in Geneva.
"Rapes of women and girls, at times in front of family members and often apparently carried out on an ethnic basis, have been repeatedly used in the North to intimidate people and break any form of resistance."
A refugee crisis is also emerging in Northern Mali. The UN Refugee Agency says nearly 230,000 people have been displaced since the crisis began a year ago. Many people fleeing Mali say they fear the strict application of Sharia law, according to agency Spokesperson Melissa Fleming.
"They report having witnessed executions, amputations, and they say that also large amounts of money are being offered to civilians to fight against the Malian army and its supporters. Disturbingly, also we are also hearing accounts that there are children among the rebel fighters; they're certainly not there willingly. Also, people very distressed at saying that family members have just disappeared."
Senegal moves to stop illegal border crossings from Mali
In neighboring Senegal, authorities have stepped up security on the western border. During a crackdown Thursday, dozens were arrested for entering from Mali illegally. FSRN’s Alpha Jallow is on the Senegal-Mali border and files this report.
Senegalese security forces started operations along the common border with Mali after President Macky Sall announced the country was on a high security alert. Senegal has agreed to provide 500 troops to aid the government of Mali in its fight against the Islamist rebels. And President Sall fears militants may try to cross into Senegal, destabilizing the western region. A military police commander on the border said police arrested more than 50 people traveling from Mali to mining sites in Senegal. He said many are Malian nationals, but others were not carrying identification. No refugees have officially crossed into Senegal since the fighting began January 10th, but more than 2000 people have fled Mali for neighboring countries such as Mauritania and Niger. The UN’s refugee agency is working in Burkina Faso to transport displaced Malians away from the border to safety. The agency estimates 700,000 people could be displaced in the conflict. Alpha Jallow, FSRN, Senegal.
Manning denied opportunity to argue whistleblower defense
A military judge issued a new ruling this week in the trial of Bradley Manning, the former Army intelligence analyst facing life in prison for allegedly giving classified information to WikiLeaks. FSRN’s James Helmsworth reports.
Judge Colonel Denise Lind’s ruling bans discussion of Manning’s motivations in the upcoming trial. Manning’s defense team has argued he acted as a whistleblower, with the intent of exposing US war crimes, but will now be prevented from presenting that evidence. Government prosecutors charge Manning with “aiding the enemy,” among other crimes. Kevin Gosztola, a journalist who attended the pretrial motions, summarized their argument. “They apparently found a digital media in Osama bin Laden’s compound that he had asked an al-Qaida member for a copy of the WikiLeaks documents and returned on a letter was attached the United States Embassy cables and war logs that Manning’s alleged to have released. So the government wants to suggest that by Manning leaking the information he made it available to al-Qaida and, therefore, he can be prosecuted and charged.” Another part of this week’s ruling requires government prosecutors to prove Manning knew he was aiding Al-Qaida when he released the files to WikiLeaks. According to Jesselyn Radack of the Government Accountability Project, this is a “‘small victory” for Manning. “They are gonna have to try to prove that he knew he was aiding al-Qaida and Bin Laden, which seems fairly ridiculous on its face that the government would show that. The government wants to show that by a sort of backwards analysis that ‘well stuff from WikiLeaks ended up in Bin Laden’s cache’ but a lot of people would be guilty of a lot of things if that were the standard.” The defense’s latest motion seeks to dismiss the case on the grounds that Manning’s right to a speedy trial has been violated. The court martial itself is set to begin in June. At that point Manning will have been in prison for more than 1,000 days. The Judge’s next ruling on pretrial motions is expected in February. James Helmsworth, FSRN, Washington.