Inside the global manhunt for a father accused of dumping his infant in New York's East River

WABC-TV(NEW YORK) -- The crime was extreme, even by New York City’s already extreme standards: a 7-month-old found by a tourist floating lifelessly in the murky water of the East River.

Though it didn’t take long to identify a prime suspect, the baby’s father, police feared they might not get him because he had fled to Asia.

But, in what seemed like almost no time, James Currie, 37, was sitting in an interrogation room in the Bangkok airport being questioned by NYPD Sgt. Edward Lee.

"There was a little bit of a stunned reaction," Lee told ABC News. "When I opened the door to the interview room, when I identified myself he asked how I got there so quickly, to which I responded 'that’s just what we do.'"

Sgt. Lee is among the intelligence operatives the NYPD has posted in 14 overseas cities as part of the International Liaison Program. It started after Sept. 11, to enhance the department’s counter-terrorism capabilities, but is sometimes pressed into service for criminal activity.

"We try to react very, very quickly," NYPD Chief of Intelligence Thomas Galati told ABC News. "We’re dealing directly with police on the ground with our person so we can get things done immediately."

Currie nearly slipped away.

The day after 7-month-old Mason Saldana was discovered, police learned Currie boarded a flight from JFK to Abu Dhabi. They alerted an NYPD detective stationed in the United Arab Emirates.

"I thought there was definitely a shot that we were going to get this guy," said Lt. John Miedreich, who commands the International Liaison Program.

They were too late. Currie had flown on to Thailand.

"We contacted Sgt. Lee in Singapore and said 'get on the first plane to Thailand,'" Galati said.

While Currie was in the air, Lee alerted the Royal Thai Police. At the same time another NYPD liaison, in France, obtained permission from Interpol to hold Currie upon landing in Bangkok.

"If he were allowed to be admitted into the country without a way to have him detained it would have been a titanic problem for us," Lee said. "Getting him detained was absolutely critical."

Chief Galati credited the International Liaison Program for establishing relationships critical to solving this, and other, cases.

"If we didn’t have the cooperation of the Royal Thai Police they could just turn him around and we don’t know where he would be," Galati said.

Instead, five days after his son’s body was pulled from the river, the NYPD and Homeland Security Investigations escorted Currie back to New York to face a charge of improper disposal of a human corpse.

Currie is due back in court on Wednesday and has pleaded not guilty to the charge against him.

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US general pushing Saudis to investigate deadly Yemen strike: Pentagon

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The three-star American general dispatched by Defense Secretary James Mattis to look into last week's deadly Saudi airstrike in Yemen is pushing Riyadh to conduct a "timely and transparent investigation" into the incident, according to a Pentagon spokesperson.

In a statement on Monday, Lt. Cmdr. Rebecca Rebarich told ABC News that the unidentified three-star general "adjusted his already scheduled visit to Saudi Arabia to discuss the incident with the Saudis and look into the situation."

The airstrike occurred last Thursday morning, killing at least 50 people including dozens of children traveling on a bus in the country’s Saada Province, local health officials said.

Saudi officials continue to contend that the strike was a "legitimate military action."

The area is a stronghold for the Houthis -- an Iranian-backed rebel group that overthrew the Yemeni government in 2015. The U.S. has backed a coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to restore the government.

On Sunday, Mattis told reporters traveling with him to Brazil that he had "dispatched a three-star general into Riyadh to look into what happened here and if there is anything we can do to preclude this from the future."

"The general discussed investigative processes and prevention of civilian casualties with the Saudis and the need for a timely and transparent investigation into this incident," Rebarich said. "He pressed the Saudis to devote the resources and oversight required to do a thorough and complete investigation and release the results to the public."

Rebarich stressed that Mattis never said the general would be conducting an investigation, but urging the Saudis "to expeditiously and thoroughly investigate this tragic incident."

Mattis' statement echoed what State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said last week when she called for the coalition to conduct "a thorough and transparent investigation."

The U.S. backs the Saudi-led coalition by supplying bombs, intelligence, and fuel for Saudi planes.

Still, Rebarich told ABC News last Thursday that "U.S. Central Command was not involved in the airstrike in Saada."

"U.S. military support to our partners mitigates noncombatant casualties, by improving coalition processes and procedures, especially regarding compliance with the law of armed conflict and best practices for reducing the risk of civilian casualties. The final decisions on the conduct of operations in the campaign are made by the members of the Saudi-led coalition, not the United States," she said.

On Sunday, Mattis told reporters that the U.S. is "not engaged in the civil war," emphasizing that the U.S. military does not do any dynamic targeting for the coalition.

"We will help to prevent the killing of innocent people, we're very concerned about the humanitarian situation," Mattis said, adding, "Wars are always tragic, but we've got to find a way to protect innocent in the midst of this one."

Col. Turki al-Malki, a spokesman for the coalition in Yemen, said last week that the coalition had launched an operation in Saada in response to Houthi fighters firing a missile on the Saudi city of Jizan on Wednesday evening.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said its medical teams received the bodies of 29 children, all under the age of 15. They also received 48 injured people, including 30 children, the ICRC said.

Yemen’s rebel-run Al Masirah TV aired footage of injured children weeping as blood streamed down their faces. Some of the children carried blue UNICEF backpacks, spotted with blood.

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Meghan Markle's dad claims he lied to Prince Harry, hung up on him

Steve Parsons - WPA Pool/Getty Images(LONDON) -- After vowing to never speak to the press again, Meghan Markle’s father has done just that.

Thomas Markle penned a new op-ed in the U.K.’s The Mail on Sunday, attempting to debunk rumors that he faked his own heart attack just before his daughter wed Prince Harry on May 19.

He also wrote that he just wants his “quiet boring life back” and admitted he lied to Harry, the sixth in line to the British throne, about staging paparazzi photos and hung up on him in a phone conversation.

Thomas Markle, who lives in Mexico, also acknowledged he has had no contact with Harry and Meghan, now the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, since before their wedding.

"Thousands of stories have been written about me,” Thomas Markle wrote. “Things have been made up, spun around and others are outright lies.”

“I'm not the weirdo schlubby dad living in a shack in Mexico drinking beer and eating McDonald's,” he wrote.

Thomas Markle conceded in the op-ed that Harry had warned him early on about the paparazzi and he ignored the warning.

He also claimed he will not speak out again.

Previous apologies

Thomas Markle made the case in his first TV interview after Meghan and Harry's wedding as to why he felt the need to speak out.

"Photos of me were always like derogatory," he said on "Good Morning Britain" in June. "They took pictures of me buying a toilet and making a big deal out of it/, so I thought this would be a nice way of improving my look."

He later apologized to Meghan and Harry, saying it would be the last time he spoke to the press.

Just a few weeks later, he was back in front of the cameras again.

"I love you. I miss you," Markle said in a July television interview. "I want to be her child's grandfather and I want to be near them."

Thomas Markle did another interview in late July, again promising it was his last interview.

"Meghan was apparently upset with me for saying that she and Harry will probably have a baby soon," he told The Mail on Sunday.

It was The Mail on Sunday that first claimed Thomas Markle had been participating in staged photo shoots to help his image, leading him to decide to withdraw from walking Meghan down the aisle at St. George's Chapel.

Thomas Markle appeared to change his mind after speaking with Meghan and Harry, but he again backed out several days later, saying he had suffered a heart attack and would be unable to travel.

Harry's father, Prince Charles, walked Meghan down the aisle instead.

Meghan's sister, Samantha Markle, Thomas Markle's daughter, is expected to start filming this week on "Celebrity Big Brother" in the U.K. Samantha Markle, who has been a frequent television presence, was reportedly paid a six-figure amount.

Kensington Palace has not commented on Thomas Markle's statements.

"Nothing like this in the royal family has ever really happened before," said ABC News royal contributor Imogen Lloyd Webber. "They don't know how to deal with it."

Meghan, Harry carry on

Amid the family drama, Meghan, who just celebrated her 37th birthday, and Harry remain busy with engagements and enjoying some vacation time.

Later this summer, the newlyweds will make the normal royal rite of passage, a trip to see Queen Elizabeth at Balmoral Castle in Scotland.

"For Harry and Meghan, the work continues and they’re focused on their lives with each other," said ABC News royal contributor Omid Scobie. "Right now Meghan absolutely has no plans to see her father and [Meghan and Harry] are about to head off to Balmoral for a short summer break."

Harry traveled to Botswana without Meghan on a private working visit with his charity Rhino Conservation, Kensington Palace confirmed last week.

"The Duke of Sussex is on a private working trip to Botswana to join the Annual General Meeting for Rhino Conservation Botswana in his capacity as Patron," a Kensington Palace spokesperson told ABC News. "He attended the Board meeting in Maun and an RCB community project in Xarakao village."

Meghan is expected to shortly announce her first charitable patronage as the fourth member of the Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

In October, Harry and Meghan will go on a trip to Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga, where they will work toward their charitable goals and attend the 2018 Invictus Games in Sydney.

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At least 69 including 17 children dead in apartment building blast in Syria: Monitoring group

iStock/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- The death toll from an explosion in an apartment building in rebel-held northwestern Syria has risen to 69, including 17 children, a monitoring group said on Monday.

The explosion happened on Sunday morning in the town of Sarmada, when a weapons depot in the basement of an apartment building detonated, according to the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Most of the residents in the building had been displaced from Syria’s Homs province, the organization said.

Fifty-two of those killed were civilians, including 17 children, and the rest were mostly rebel fighters, the monitoring group said.

The White Helmets, a Syrian search-and-rescue group, gave a slightly lower toll, saying 67 people were killed and another 37 injured in the explosion. The group said the explosion destroyed two buildings and that the search-and-rescue operation took 22 hours.

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Ukrainian film director Oleg Sentsov has been on hunger strike for 90 days

Isa Foltin/Getty Images(MOSCOW) -- Oleg Sentsov has not eaten for 90 days.

For nearly three months, the Ukrainian film director has been on a hunger strike in a remote Russian prison, where advocates say he is being held as a political prisoner.

Sentsov, 42, was arrested in 2014 when Russian seized his native Crimea from Ukraine. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison on terrorism charges in a trial that Amnesty International condemned as “Stalinist.”

He was then sent to a high-security prison colony in Russia’s far north inside the Arctic Circle.

On May 14, Sentsov declared a hunger strike, demanding the release of approximately 70 Ukrainian political prisoners currently held in Russia.

Since then, he has refused food, receiving only glucose and vitamin supplements. His lawyer, Dmitry Dinze, visited him on Tuesday and said Sentsov had lost 66 pounds and his heart rate had slowed to just 40 beats a minute.

Sentsov’s cousin on Thursday said she had received a letter from him in which he said he could now barely stand up and that he had written: “The end is near.”

“Things are not just bad. They are catastrophically bad,” the cousin, Natalya Kaplan, wrote in a post on Facebook.

Ukraine’s rights ombudswoman, Lyudmila Denisova, released photos of Senstov Thursday that she said she had received from her Russian counterpart. In the photos, Sentsov looks gaunt and weak, noticeably reduced from the 220 pounds he weighed when he entered prison.

Russia's prison service in a statement on Tuesday said Sentsov's condition was "satisfactory."

When Russian invaded Crimea four years ago, Sentsov was a successful filmmaker, best known for his 2011 film Gamer. A member of an activist group, he opposed the annexation vocally, taking part in demonstrations and passing food to Ukrainian soldiers trapped in their bases by Russian troops.

Two weeks after the takeover, officers from Russia’s FSB security service seized him. According to Sentsov’s account, he was tortured, suffocated with a plastic bag and threatened with rape.

Amnesty International described Sentsov’s trial as a “Stalinist show trial,” involving invented charges and confessions produced through torture. A military court convicted him of arranging for the doors of the office of the local branch of a pro-Russian party to be set on fire, and of plotting to blow up a statue of Lenin.

Prosecutors were unable to present any evidence tying Sentsov to the plot, and a key witness withdrew his confession, saying he had been tortured into making it. Still, Sentsov was convicted of terrorism.

He has been serving his sentence at the prison colony in Labytnangi in the Yamal region, where the climate is brutally cold, and which is located more than 3,000 miles from Crimea, where his two young children live.

“They wanted Senstov to be an example,” said Tanya Lokshina, a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch. “He got 20 years for a crime he did not commit.”

Sentsov’s case has attracted international attention, with calls from politicians and film celebrities calling for him to be released, among them Johnny Depp, the novelist Stephen King and the director Pedro Almodóvar.

But the Kremlin has so far shown little sign of relenting, and the effort to free Sentsov has become increasingly urgent. Others have died on shorter hunger strikes.

The Irish Republican Bobby Sands, for example, died in 1981 after 66 days. And, during the Soviet Union, the dissident Anatoly Marchenko died after a 117-day strike, having endured forced feeding.

There had been hopes during the World Cup that the heightened international scrutiny might be used to push the Kremlin into showing leniency. But the tournament passed with no change.

The Kremlin has said Sentsov must submit an application himself for a presidential pardon. He has previously refused to ask for leniency or for his own release on the grounds that he does not recognize his detention as legitimate.

He considers himself a Ukrainian citizen illegally tried as a Russian.

Last month, Sentsov’s mother asked Russia President Vladimir Putin to pardon her son. On Wednesday, Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said the pardon request had been received, but it would have to be examined.

On Friday, there was a renewed push by France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, who called Putin to raise Sentsov’s case. But, following the call, the Kremlin’s readout made no mention of him, saying the two had discussed Syria and “some other things.”

“The clock is ticking very loudly,” said Lokshina. “With regards to the international community, it’s not for lack of trying. But somehow the Kremlin doesn’t move.”

The European Court of Human Rights has ordered Russia to transfer Sentsov to a public hospital close to Crimea and provide him with appropriate medical care while urging him to halt his strike. Sentsov has refused to be moved, however, saying he won’t survive the journey.

"I'm not ill. I'm on hunger strike, and I don't plan to stop,” Sentsov wrote in a handwritten letter published by his lawyer on Facebook.

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Iran fired ballistic missile as part of naval exercise 

iStock/Thinkstock(STRAIGHT OF HORMUZ, Iran) -- Iran fired a short range anti-ship missile last week as part of the short notice naval exercise it held near the Strait of Hormuz, according to two U.S. officials. Earlier this week the top U.S. commander in the Middle East said the Iranian naval exercise was intended to send a message to the U.S. about the resumption of economic sanctions against Iran.

According to a U.S. official an anti-ship version of the Fatah-110 short range ballistic missile was fired from land in the vicinity of the Strait of Hormuz and landed in the waters of the Persian Gulf. The Fatah-110 missile has a maximum range of 125 miles.

The missile launch by Iran, first reported by Fox News, was the first time this year that Iran has fired a ballistic missile of any type.

The two U.S. officials said the missile firing was part of the naval exercise carried out by Iran last week in the Strait of Hormuz. The officials said Iran has historically carried out a ballistic missile firing as part of the exercise, so last week's missile launch was consistent with that pattern.

The exercise had raised concerns at the Pentagon because it appeared to be held on short notice months before it would have typically occurred in the fall.

Gen. Joseph Votel, the commander of U.S. Central Command told reporters earlier this week that he believed the Iranian exercise was intended to send a message to the U.S. about the resumption of economic sanctions against Iran.

"It's pretty clear to us that they were trying to use that exercise to send a message to us that, as we approach the period for the sanctions here, they had some capabilities," said Votel. In turn Votel said his command’s message to Iran was "We are aware of what's going on and we remain ready to protect ourselves."

About 75 small boats participated in the exercise practicing "swarm" maneuvers that could be carried out against commercial or military warships transiting through the Strait of Hormuz. Between 20 to 30 percent of the world's oil transits out of the Persian Gulf through the vital waterway.

Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard typically uses small craft to harass U.S. Navy ships in the region, though there has not been an unprofessional interaction with an Iranian small craft in almost a year.

While U.S. officials noted Iran's preparations for the exercise before and during the exercise, Iran did not acknowledge holding the two-day exercise until after it had ended.

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Germany loosens ban on Nazi symbols in video games

iStock/Thinkstock(BERLIN) -- Hitler-style mustaches and swastikas can now be used in video games in some instances, German regulators have ruled.

Germany's constitution forbids the use of symbols deemed "anti-constitutional," including Nazi party-affiliated symbols, and violation of those rules can result in jail time. Yet although such symbols can be used in certain sectors under artistic freedom laws -- for example, in films portraying the Nazi era -- the video gaming industry had long been a gray area.

This week, the German Entertainment Software Self Regulation Body (USK), which is tasked with regulating content in the video game industry, determined that Hitler-style mustaches and swastikas can now be used in the video game "Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus."

Previously, swastikas were replaced with a neutral triangular symbol and Hitler was depicted without a mustache in the German edition of the game, which is based around an alternate reality in which the Nazis won World War II.

Moving forward, the regulatory body's judges will decide on a case-by-case basis if such content has "an artistic or scientific purpose, or helps to depict current or historical events," the organization said in a statement.

"Through the change in the interpretation of the law, games that critically look at current affairs can, for the first time, be given an age rating by the USK,” Elisabeth Secker, the USK's managing director, said in a statement.

"This has long been the case for films and with regards to the freedom of the arts, this is now rightly also the case with computer and video games," she added. "The committees of the USK will also perform this task with great care, competence, and responsibility."

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Rebels welcome call for investigation into airstrike in Yemen that killed dozens of children

ABC News(SAADA, Yemen) -- Houthi rebels welcomed a call for an international investigation into an airstrike that killed dozens of children traveling on a school bus in Yemen's Saada province Thursday.

"We welcome the call of the United Nations secretary general and are ready to cooperate," Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, the senior leader of the Shiite Houthi group, said in a tweet in Arabic on Friday.

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres condemned the airstrike by the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led coalition and called for an "independent and prompt investigation" into the attack in a statement on Thursday.

On Friday, the Saudi-led coalition announced it would investigate the attack. According to the Saudi Press Agency, a senior official in the coalition made the decision after having seen media reports, including reports from relief agencies, about the incident.

On Thursday, the International Committee of the Red Cross said on Twitter that its hospital in Saada received the bodies of 29 children. The hospital also received 48 injured people, including 30 children. The majority of the patients were under the age of 10, the ICRC said.

On Friday, the ICRC, citing authorities in Saada, said that 51 people were killed in the attack, including 40 children, while 79 people had been injured, including 56 children.

On Thursday, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert called on the Saudi government to conduct a "thorough and transparent investigation” into the attack during a press briefing.

But when asked by reporters whether she saw the need for an independent investigation, Nauert would not say.

“This is something that is fresh, that just happened, so I’m not going to get ahead of any kind of investigation that may take place,” Nauert said.

The Saudi-led coalition has been fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen since March 2015. After the Houthis took over the capital of Sanaa and forced interim president Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi and his government to flee the country, the Arab Sunni coalition, led by Saudi Arabia, launched a war to restore Hadi’s government to power.

Since then, more than 10,000 people have been killed, and the coalition has been blamed by the United Nations for most of the civilian deaths. Western countries, including the U.S. and the U.K., back the coalition and have supplied it with weapons and other military equipment.

Yemen is one of the world’s poorest countries and the war has made conditions there much worse. More than 22 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance and more than half of the country’s health facilities are out of service, according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

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Shooting in Canadian city leaves several dead, police say

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Four people were killed in a shooting in Canada's eastern city of Fredericton on Friday morning, police said. The suspect was wounded during the incident and is in custody.

Police officers were responding to reports of gunshots at an apartment building in Fredericton, the capital of New Brunswick province, when they encountered and fired at the suspect.

The Fredericton Police Force urged residents via Twitter to avoid the area and "stay in their homes with doors locked." The police force also asked the public not to report on the locations or activities of authorities and first responders.

Around 9:30 a.m. local time, officers forced entry into an apartment unit and arrested a 48-year-old man. The Fredericton Police Force subsequently declared via Twitter that there was "no further threat to the public."

The suspect was transported to a local hospital for "serious injuries" related to the incident, police said.

Two officers from the Fredericton Police Force were among those killed Friday: Lawrence Robert Costello and Sara Mae Helen Burns. Costello, 45, was a 20-year veteran of the police force and he leaves behind his partner and four children. Burns, 43, had been with the force for two years and leaves behind her husband and three children.

"It's been a very difficult day," Fredericton Police Chief Leanne Fitch told reporters Friday afternoon. "Those that were killed this morning were taken very good care of."

Two civilians, an adult male and an adult female, were also killed. Authorities are waiting for family members to be notified before releasing their names.

The circumstances of the shooting were unclear and authorities declined to provide further details at a press conference Friday afternoon. The investigation is ongoing.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a statement on the shooting, praising first responders and mourning the slain officers in Fredericton.

"There is no greater gesture than to put oneself in harm’s way to protect the life of another," Trudeau said. "This morning, first responders rushed to the scene of danger. They did not think twice about what they had to do to keep their fellow Canadians safe. They were unflinching in their duty. We will not forget the two fallen police officers whose sacrifice no doubt saved lives and prevented even greater tragedy."

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Taliban storms strategic Afghan city, reportedly leaving several dead

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Taliban fighters stormed a provincial capital in Afghanistan before dawn on Friday, exchanging fire with security forces and reportedly leaving several dead.

The insurgents entered the southeastern city of Ghazni overnight, reportedly hiding inside homes, before launching the brazen attack in the early morning hours. The city is strategically located along the main route between southern Afghanistan and the country's capital, Kabul.

U.S. Forces-Afghanistan, which oversees American troops in the country, confirmed the attack via Twitter, calling it a "failed attempt" to capture territory. U.S. forces "responded with close-air support" in Ghazni, while Afghan security forces "held their ground" and maintained control of all government buildings.

"Another failed attempt by Taliban to seize terrain, while creating strategically inconsequential headlines," U.S. Forces-Afghanistan tweeted.

Friday morning's assault on Ghazni was the latest in a string of attempts by the Taliban to overrun urban centers since the Afghan government called off a unilateral ceasefire with the militant group that was in place for Eid al-Fitr, the holiday marking the end of Islam's holy month of Ramadan.

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