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Sunday
Dec052010

British MP Denies His Assistant Is Russian Spy

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(LONDON) -- A Russian working as a parliamentary aide to a British MP has been taken into custody to face deportation proceedings amid claims she is a spy. Liberal Democrat Mike Hancock told the BBC, however, that his 24-year-old assistant was not guilty, nor was she working with especially classified information. The UK's Sunday Times reported on her arrest, claiming that a warrant was issued by MI5. Hancock expressed optimism about her appeal.

Anna Zatuliveter was first stopped in the summer and had been interviewed by police four or five times since. There is no word yet whether she will be deported.

The allegation comes after 10 Russian agents were expelled from the U.S. in July. The BBC reported that author Chapman Pincher believes spy games have increased because Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin seeks to elevate his country's status, and because espionage has become much easier due to the increased focus on terrorism.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Dec052010

Israeli Officials: Deadly Blaze Contained

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(JERUSALEM) -- The fire that incinerated over 12,000 acres of Israel's Mount Carmel forest, left more than 40 dead, and forced thousands from their homes has been contained, Israeli officials said Sunday.

More than 30 planes and helicopters -- 20 of them from foreign countries -- took to the skies to assist the firefight.

Israeli police have arrested two brothers, aged 16 and 14, from the Druze village of Isfiya who they suspect may have started the fire.  Police allege the teens were negligent and left a fire burning that they had started near their home.  Police do not believe the case is arson.  The boys' parents told reporters their sons are innocent and being used as a scapegoat.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held his weekly cabinet meeting in the northern part of the country, near the scene of the blaze.  He thanked many in the international community for their assistance.  Netanyahu spoke by phone with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for the first time in two months and thanked him for agreeing to send a number of firefighting trucks.

The Israeli prime minister is coming under harsh criticism for not adequately funding firefighters, despite prior requests and warnings. Some are calling for the resignation of the interior minister, who is officially in charge of the funding.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Dec052010

Iran Claims Nuclear Program is Self-Sufficient

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Photo Courtesy - ABC News(TEHRAN, Iran) -- An Iranian state official says that the country's nuclear program is now self-sufficient -- that it has produced its own uranium for enrichment, material that could be used to manufacture a nuclear weapon.

This latest development comes just ahead of Monday’s meeting in Geneva to persuade Iran to stop its nuclear program.

The announcement is a sign of defiance from Iran's government -- seen by some as political posturing -- and could signal that sanctions are working and that the country is finding it more difficult to secretly import raw uranium and yellowcake from abroad.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Dec052010

Russian Plane Accident: Death Toll Rises, Authorities Search for Cause

Photo Courtesy - STR/AFP/Getty Images(MOSCOW) -- Russian authorities are trying to figure out what caused the engines to fail on a passenger jet Saturday, causing it to make an emergency landing. Three people were killed and more than 80 were injured when the plane skidded off the runway.

Trouble began just 30 minutes into the flight, when two of the plane's engines failed and the crew requested an emergency landing at the nearest airport. As the plane approached the runway, a third engine failed, the plane skidded off the runway and broke into three pieces.

The type of plane involved -- a Tupolev-154, or Tu-154 -- does not have a clean safety record. Even Russia's national carrier stopped using it after a series of crashes.

“The number of accidents in Russia have risen and fallen over time but Russia is in the process of rebuilding their civil aviation system, and it's a long process,” said ABC News aviation consultant John Nance.

The Dagestan Airline plane was headed from Moscow to Makhachkala.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Dec052010

Former Top Diplomat Says US Ambassador to Afghanistan Must Go

Karl W. Eikenberry, U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan. Photo Courtesy - U.S. Department of State(WASHINGTON) -- Zalmay Khalilzad, the former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, tells ABC News that America's current ambassador there, Karl Eikenbury, should go because his relationship with Afghan President Hamid Karzai had been irreparably damaged by leaks.

"I think he has -- really, he's been damaged very badly by the leaks that have taken place, here in Washington, before WikiLeaks and afterwards. And a trusting relationship, if that's his objective, and I believe it ought to be, would require, I think, changes in terms of personnel that are responsible on a day to day basis in dealing with President Karzai," Khalilzad said.

He said the Obama administration has not managed their relationship with Karzai well.

"I think this goes back to ... Ambassador Eikenbury's cable as an input to the strategy review -- a very highly-classified cable -- was leaked, damaging his relationship with President Karzai," Khalilzad said. "And then all the discussions that are in the book of Mr. Woodward, the leaking of extremely classified stuff, was far more damaging to the relationship and the management of the relationship with Karzai then the WikiLeaks."

"There is a huge trust deficit," Khalilzad, who was born in Afghanistan, said. "If we want to deal with the issue of partnership with the government of Afghanistan, if we want to deal with the issue of domestic politics effectively, of capitalizing cooperation, we would need to have a new team to be able to do that."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Dec052010

WikiLeaks Cables Give Insight Into Chinese Hacking

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(BEIJING) -- In a recent batch of cables released by WikiLeaks, the world was given new information concerning the alleged Chinese hacking of search giant, Google. The cable says that a well-placed contact tipped diplomats that high-level Chinese officials coordinated the attack.

According to The New York Times, the cable reveals that when a Google search turned up material deemed offensive by the government, Li Changchun, one of the country's top officials, decided to conduct a cyber attack. Google responded to the hacking in January 2010. If true, the cable shows the level of Chinese concern about Google's influence and lack of censorship.

A seperate cable reveals that the U.S. government has been subject to Chinese hackers as early as 2002. The objective of these attacks, the cable claimed, was to "exfiltrate massive amounts of sensitive data from the networks."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Dec052010

Defense Secretary Gates Visits Oman Sultan

Photo Courtesy - U.S. Department of Defense(MUSCAT, Oman) -- Secretary of Defense Robert Gates arrived in Muscat, Oma, Sunday to meet with the nation's leaders. The visit comes in the wake of the WikiLeaks latest release of diplomatic cables, and Iran's first batch of "yellowcake" enriched uranium.

Gates is stopping in Oman before travelling to the carrier USS Abraham Lincoln. The layover was arranged partly for diplomatic reasons, due to Sultan Qaboos' help in coordinating a dialogue with Iran in Bahrain last week.

"One of the things we highly value in the relationship with the sultan is the fact that he is widely regarded as an honest broker in the region. He’s someone who enjoys a lot of respect from all parties," a defense department official told reporters.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Dec052010

WikiLeaks Continues Fight to Stay Online

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Photo Courtesy - LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The controversial website WikiLeaks is in a fight to stay online.

The site has been dropped by its main server in France, at least temporarily preventing many people from accessing its trove of secret U.S. government documents.

It has also lost a major source of funding. The online payment service PayPal has shut down WikiLeaks’ account on the site, saying that the website is engaged in illegal activity.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Dec042010

Spanish Air Traffic Controllers Strike, Thousands Stranded

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(MADRID) -- Spanish air traffic controllers are headed back to work from an unofficial strike after the government declared a state of alert, which meant those refusing to return could face prosecution.

Tens of thousands of travellers were left stranded when air traffic controllers walked off the job in a dispute over pay and conditions.

Approximately 50 percent of airspace was reopened Saturday shortly after Iberia – the country's largest air carrier – announced all flights would be cancelled until Sunday morning. The airline tweeted that flights from Santo Domingo, Chicago, New York and Miami were being rerouted to Portugal.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Dec042010

Russian 'King of Spam' Pleads Not Guilty

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(MILWAUKEE) -- A 23-year-old Milwaukee man who has been called the "King of Spam" by investigators was arraigned Friday and is being held without bail on federal charges.

Oleg Nikolaenko was arrested in Las Vegas last month, accused of violating the CAN-SPAM Act, which sets the rules for commercial email, when he allegedly masterminded a worldwide spam network that blasted out billions of e-mails.

He pleaded not guilty on Friday. According to prosecutors, Nikolaenko would place malicious code on unsuspecting users' computers and remotely hijack the machines to send out one-third of the unwanted messages around the world.

According to Steve Jones, an Internet expert at the University of Illinois at Chicago, the technology Nikolaenko allegedly employed could easily spam just about every Internet user around the world in a day.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Erica O'Neil had asked that Nikolaenko be detained because he has no ties to the United States and would be at risk to return to Russia, according to The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







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