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Reuters Reporters In Myanmar Appeal Conviction

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Reuters Reporters In Myanmar Appeal Conviction

Lawyers for two Reuters reporters jailed for seven years in Myanmar lodged an appeal on Monday against their conviction on charges of breaking the country’s Official Secrets Act.

The appeal cited evidence of a police set-up and lack of proof of a crime.

“We filed an appeal … because the trial court’s ruling was wrong,” said Reuters President and Editor-in-Chief, Stephen J. Adler in a statement.

“In condemning them as spies, it ignored compelling evidence of a police set-up, serious due process violations, and the prosecution’s failure to prove any of the key elements of the crime.”

He added the court shifted the burden of proof from the prosecution to the Reuters reporters, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, and called on Myanmar to “uphold its stated dedication to rule of law, freedom of the press, and democracy by ordering the release of our colleagues.”

Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, were found guilty in September after a trial at a Yangon district court in a landmark case that has raised questions about Myanmar’s progress toward democracy and sparked an outcry from diplomats and human rights advocates.

Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi said in September that the jailing of the reporters had nothing to do with freedom of expression. In comments made the week after their conviction, she said they had been sentenced for handling official secrets and “were not jailed because they were journalists”.

Defence lawyers filed the appeal on Monday morning at the Yangon-based High Court. If the court rules to allow the appeal, an appellate judge would take written and oral arguments from prosecution and defense lawyers before handing down a decision.

Before their arrest, the reporters had been working on a Reuters investigation into the killing of 10 Rohingya Muslim men and boys by security forces and local Buddhists in western Myanmar’s Rakhine state during an army crackdown that began in August last year. The operation sent more than 700,000 people fleeing to Bangladesh.

During eight months of hearings, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo testified that two policemen they had not met before handed them papers rolled up in a newspaper during a meeting at a Yangon restaurant on Dec. 12. Almost immediately afterwards, they said, they were bundled into a car by plainclothes officers.

On Feb. 1, a police witness said under cross-examination that information in the documents had already been published in newspapers. In April, a prosecution witness testified that a senior officer had ordered subordinates to plant documents on Wa Lone to “trap” the reporter.

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US Federal Court Document Shows Indictment Against Wikileaks Founder Assange

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US Federal Court Document Shows Indictment Against Wikileaks Founder Assange

A US federal court document showed on Thursday that prosecutors have obtained a sealed indictment against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, whose website published thousands of classified U.S. government documents.

The document, which prosecutors say was filed by mistake, asks a judge to seal documents in a criminal case unrelated to Assange, and carries markings indicating it was originally filed in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia in August.

A source familiar with the matter said the document was initially sealed but unsealed this week for reasons that are unclear at the moment.

On social network Twitter, Wikileaks said it was an “apparent cut-and-paste error.”

U.S. officials had no comment on the disclosure in the document about a sealed indictment of Assange, the charges facing whom are unclear.

The document is part of an unrelated criminal case involving a 29-year-old man charged with enticing a 15-year-old girl. In that case, the judge wrote in a detention memo that the defendant, Seitu Sulayman Kokayi, “has had a substantial interest in terrorist acts.”

Reuters was unable to immediately trace contact details for Kokayi.

But Joshua Stueve, a spokesman for the prosecutors’ office which filed the document that was unsealed, told Reuters, “The court filing was made in error. That was not the intended name for this filing.”

Reuters was unable to immediately reach Assange or his lawyers to seek comment.

Prosecutors sought to keep the charges confidential until after Assange’s arrest, the document shows, saying the move was essential to ensure he did not evade or avoid arrest and extradition in the case.

Any procedure “short of sealing will not adequately protect the needs of law enforcement at this time because, due to the sophistication of the defendant, and the publicity surrounding the case, no other procedure is likely to keep confidential the fact that Assange has been charged,” the document reads.

It adds, “The complaint, supporting affidavit, and arrest warrant, as well as this motion and the proposed order, would need to remain sealed until Assange is arrested in connection with the charges in the criminal complaint and can therefore no longer evade or avoid arrest and extradition in this matter.”

U.S. officials have previously acknowledged that federal prosecutors based in Alexandria have been conducting a lengthy criminal investigation into WikiLeaks and its founder.

Representatives of the U.S. administration of President Donald Trump, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, have publicly called for Assange to be aggressively prosecuted.

Assange and his supporters have periodically said U.S. authorities had filed secret criminal charges against him, an assertion against which some U.S. officials pushed back until recently.

Facing extradition from Britain to Sweden to be questioned in a sexual molestation case, Assange six years ago took refuge in Ecuador’s London embassy, where initially he was treated as a welcome guest.

But following a change in the government of the south American nation, Ecuadorean authorities last March began to crack down on his access to outsiders and for a time cut off his internet access.

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UK PM Theresa May In Biggest Crisis Of Premiership Over Brexit Deal

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UK PM Theresa May In Biggest Crisis Of Premiership Over Brexit Deal

Prime Minister Theresa May was grappling with the biggest crisis of her premiership on Friday after a draft divorce deal with the European Union provoked the resignations of senior ministers and mutiny in her party.

More than two years since the United Kingdom voted to leave the EU in a shock referendum, it is still unclear how, on what terms or even if it will leave the EU as planned on March 29, 2019.

Ever since winning the top job in the turmoil that followed the 2016 referendum, May has sought to negotiate a Brexit deal that ensures that the United Kingdom leaves in the smoothest way possible.

But Brexit minister Dominic Raab resigned over her deal, sending the pound tumbling. Mutinous lawmakers in her own party openly sought to challenge her leadership and bluntly told her that the Brexit deal would not pass parliament.

Asked if she would contest any challenge to her position, May replied: “Am I going to see this through? Yes.” She is due to speak on LBC radio at 0800 GMT.

On Friday, it was not clear whether Michael Gove, the most prominent Brexit-supporting minister in her government, would stay on as environment minister after May offered him the job of Brexit minister, British newspapers reported.

Brexit will pitch the world’s fifth largest economy into the unknown. Many fear it will divide the West as it grapples with both the unconventional U.S. presidency of Donald Trump and growing assertiveness from Russia and China.

Amid the deepest political turmoil since the Suez canal crisis, when in 1956 Britain was forced by the United States to withdraw its troops from Egypt, the ultimate outcome remains uncertain.

Scenarios include May’s deal ultimately winning approval; May losing her job; Britain leaving the bloc with no agreement; or even another referendum.

The EU and Britain need an agreement to keep trade flowing between the world’s biggest trading bloc and the United Kingdom, home to the biggest international financial center.

Supporters of Brexit say that while the divorce might bring some short-term instability, in the longer term it will allow the United Kingdom to thrive and also enable deeper EU integration without such a powerful reluctant member.

By seeking to preserve the closest possible ties with the EU, May has upset her party’s many advocates of a clean break, and Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which props up her minority government.

Meanwhile, proponents of closer relations with the EU in her own party and the Labour opposition say the deal squanders the advantages of membership for little gain.

The deal will need the backing of about 320 of parliament’s 650 lawmakers to pass.

“It is … mathematically impossible to get this deal through the House of Commons. The stark reality is that it was dead on arrival,” said Conservative Brexit-supporting lawmaker Mark Francois.

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France, U.S Move To Crash Oil Price

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France, U.S Move To Crash Oil Price

France President Emmanuel Macron and U.S. President Donald Trump have agreed to put pressure on oil producers to bring down prices.

Oil prices have risen 45 per cent since Macron took office in mid-2017 and his government is facing pressure on high prices from grassroots movement protesting recent petrol tax hikes.

He said on Wednesday: “When I talked at length with Donald Trump on Saturday in Paris, we together took the decision to put pressure on Saudi Arabia and other producers to limit prices.”

“If you look at prices these last few days, oil prices are starting to fall and I hope that this fall will continue,” he added.

Oil prices rose nearly two per cent on Wednesday, recovering some lost ground the previous day amid signs that OPEC and allied producers may cut output next month to boost prices.

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