[JURIST] Santa Clara Superior Court Judge James P. Kleinberg ruled Friday that Apple Computer [corporate website] could subpoena the e-mail records of the PowerPage Macintosh enthusiast website. Apple has been engaged in legal actions [JURIST report] against PowerPage and other Mac fan sites alleging that they published trade secrets about new Apple products; the site owners have argued that they were protected from revealing the sources of their information under journalist shield laws and other First Amendment protections. In his preliminary and pointedly limited ruling Kleinberg sidestepped the issue of whether fan sites run by bloggers could claim journalistic protections, simply saying that "even if the movants are journalists, this is not the equivalent of a free pass." He also noted that the existence of a public interested in Apple products was not the equivalent of a public interest that could override Apple's legitimate interest in protecting its trade information. The text of the court ruling, which did not address the merits of Apple's case against the websites, is not yet available online. CNET has more.
[JURIST] A US Department of Justice report released Friday described allegations of mistreatment of Muslim prisoners at several US federal prisons and documented one instance where a warden and guards discriminated and retaliated against Muslim inmates who had complained. The allegations and findings were contained in a regular semi-annual report of alleged civil liberties and civil rights breaches by Justice Department mandated under the Patriot Act. DOJ Inspector General Glenn A. Fine [official profile] also noted in his report that no prison officials had as yet been disciplined in connection with mistreatment of Arab and Muslim detainees held at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, NY, after the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington; it also indicated that an investigation into incorrect FBI allegations of wrongdoing against Muslim Oregon attorney Brandon Mayfield [JURIST report] in connection with the March 11, 2004 Madrid bombings were ongoing. Review the full text of the DOJ report [PDF]. AP has more.
[JURIST] Polish authorities have arrested five officers, including a colonel and two majors, for allegedly accepting bribes from both US and Iraqi companies while serving in Iraq. Officials from the Polish Defense Ministry [official website in Polish] claimed that two of the officers were caught red-handed in a Polish airport on their way back from Iraq with $90,000 in cash with no adequate explanation of the source of the money. Two Polish civilians have also been arrested. The US and Iraqi companies involved were not named, but press reports say that the bribes were given in connection with oil contracts. In the midst of the preliminary investigations into these allegations Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski [official profile] indicated in a press conference Friday that Poland would likely withdraw from or significantly reduce its 1,700 troop presence in Iraq sometime in 2005 citing increased stability in the country. BBC News has more.
[JURIST] With a political compromise over the controversial UK Prevention of Terrorism Bill accepted [JURIST report], the House of Lords approved the latest Commons version of the anti-terror legislation early Friday evening London time, ending the deadlock between the two houses and opening the way for formal royal assent later tonight. BBC News has more.
[JURIST] Conservative leader Michael Howard has said he has accepted a compromise offer by UK Prime Minister Tony Blair that would likely push through contentious anti-terror legislation that had the Commons and Lords locked in back-and-forth debate [JURIST report] Thursday night through Friday morning. Under the offer, Blair promised to allow the Commons to review the Prevention of Terrorism Bill [text] in a year, which Howard called a "sunset clause in all but name." Conservatives had demanded a sunset provision in the bill, which the government had been hoping to pass before the current anti-terror legislation expired on Sunday. BBC News has more.
[JURIST] A Cambodian military court charged two Khmer Rouge [Wikipedia article] leaders with war crimes Friday to prevent the two from being released before a UN-backed tribunal [JURIST report] is set up to try them. Court director Ney Thol said that additional violations by the two former leaders came to light in evidence from New Zealand and Australian embassies of citizens from those countries killed by the regime in the '70s. Thol said new charges had to be filed or the two would have to be released. An estimated 1.7 million people died during rule by the Khmer Rouge from 1975 to 1979. The UN has struggled to raise the necessary $56 million to set up a tribunal to try the former leaders, many of whom are elderly and dying. Reuters has more.
[JURIST] Nepal Friday released former Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and 17 others held since King Gyanendra [BBC News profile] dismissed the elected government and seized power on Feb. 1 [JURIST report]. Several other leaders still remain under house arrest, including Nepal's first elected prime minister, Girija Prasad Koirala, and opposition leader Madhav Kumar Nepal. The Nepalese government has come under increasing international pressure in the past month to restore civil liberties eliminated when Gyanendra imposed emergency rule. Gyanendra has said that he dismissed the government due to its inability to halt a Maoist rebellion since 1996. A government spokesperson said Thursday that rights would soon be restored [JURIST report]. AFP has more.
[JURIST] A Yemeni sheik and his assistant were convicted Thursday on terror-funding charges, bringing to a close a convoluted three-year case that saw the FBI's star witness set himself on fire [JURIST report] in front of the White House in an attempt to gain more concessions from the FBI. Sheik Mohammed Ali Hassan al-Moayad and Mohammed Yahya Zayed were convicted on eight out of 10 charges against them of leading a terror-funding network based in Brooklyn, NY. Al-Moayad and Zayed cried out in Arabic after the verdict was read that they had been wrongly convicted. Both maintained that additional evidence on government surveillance recordings would have showed they were not guilty. Al-Moayad faces up to 75 years in prison, and Zayed could get up 45 years, but defense attorneys said they would appeal. Al-Moayad was not convicted on charges of funding al-Qaida, the main charge announced when he was arrested in Germany in 2003. Jurors said their verdict was not affected by testimony from Mohamed Alanssi [JURIST report], the informant who set himself alight. AP has more.
[JURIST] The latest US Defense Department documents obtained by the ACLU in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit [ACLU materials] against the US goverment indicate that the US held children under 12 at the prison as well as women, at least one of whom, then aged 17, was sexually molested by drunken US personnel who were never charged. Children and women were moved into a cell block at the facility in 2003 in preference to having youths held in local lock-ups across Baghdad. The revelations come in an May 2004 transcript of an investigatory interview with former Abu Ghraib commander Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski [PDF] who was later cited in army reports for poor leadership. Karpinski also said she had seen written orders to hold a CIA "ghost detainee" without any record that could be accessible to the Red Cross. Review the full set of released documents and read an accompanying ACLU press release issued Thursday focusing on the "ghost detainees" issue. AP has more.
[JURIST] The Environmental Protection Agency [official website] finalized Friday a new rule that will cap sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides emissions in the eastern half of the country and require reductions to meet those limits. The Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR) [regulatory information including text] will cut emissions of the gases in 28 eastern states to 60 and 70 percent of 2003 levels by 2015. The gases are linked to smog and soot pollution, both of which exacerbate respiratory problems. The new rule uses a cap-and-trade format similar to that used by the Acid Rain Program [EPA backgrounder] implemented in 1990 that sets an overall emission limit and allows utitilies and other polluters to determine how to meet the required reductions. CAIR, which is essentially a regional version of President Bush's Clear Skies legislation, was pushed forward by EPA after the Clear Skies initiative failed to gain traction in Congress. The Clear Skies Act [THOMAS bill summary] legislation suffered another setback [JURIST report] in the Senate Thursday. EPA is also expected next week to finalize the Clean Air Mercury Rule [EPA backgrounder], a similar rule regulating mercury emissions for the first time. Read the EPA press release on the new rule. EPA has more on CAIR. Bloomberg has more.
[JURIST] The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 [THOMAS bill summary and text] is expected to move to the House next week after winning Senate approval [JURIST report] Thursday. The bill, long lobbied for by credit card companies, makes it harder for those in debt to file for Chapter 7 [text] bankruptcy, which eliminates almost all debts. Instead, under the legislation, more people will be forced to file under Chapter 13 [text], which requires repayment of some debt under a structured plan. Numerous attempts by Senate Democrats to insert amendments that would have loosened restrictions in certain cases, such as medical emergencies, were blocked by Republicans. House Republicans have said they hope to pass the bill in the coming weeks for President Bush to sign by next month. AP has more.
[JURIST] A French national transferred from Guantanamo Bay to France earlier this week has been released by the French government, his lawyer reported. Mustaq Ali Patel, one of the last three French nationals transferred from Guantanamo on Monday [JURIST report], was released after being held by French authorities for 48 hours. The two other former detainees were still being held by the government. AFP has more.
[JURIST] AP is reporting that a UK judge has granted bail for eight foreign men held without charge on terrorism suspicions. The release comes as British lawmakers engaged in a heated debate [JURIST report] over proposed anti-terror legislation in a rush to replace the existing laws, which are to lapse at midnight on Sunday. Five of the suspects were moved from Belmarsh high-security prison to an immigration center in London, where bail terms were being decided by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission [UK Court Service website]. A sixth suspect was already released, while bail was being considered for a seventh. BBC News has more.
[JURIST] The Bundestag [official website in German], the German lower house of parliament, Friday approved a ban on marches by right-wing neo-Nazi groups at Holocaust memorial sites as fears increased that such marches would disrupt upcoming 60th anniversary observances of the end of World World II. The legislation could also ban marches intended to glorify Nazi-era crimes. The bill was presented after neo-Nazi groups applied to march through Berlin's historic Brandenburg Gate [Berlin Tourist Board website], a prominent symbol during the Nazi period, and past a planned Holocaust memorial. The German upper house, the Bundesrat [official website in German] will now be asked to consider the measure, which it is expected to approve. Neo-Nazi ideology has become a general political concern in Germany in recent months, ever since the far-right National Democratic Party [political website in German] won 12 seats in a state parliament late last year and drew 5000 rights to a march in Dresden last month to mark the 50th anniversary of the city's firebombing in 1945, the biggest neo-Nazi march in Germany since the 1950s. Deutsche Press Agentur has more.
[JURIST] Vietnamese plaintiffs have condemned a US district judge's dismissal [JURIST report] of their class action against Agent Orange manufacturers for alleged harms since the defoliant was used by the US military. The lawsuit against Dow Chemical and Monsanto among others had gained incredible momentum in Vietnam, where 11.5 million people signed a petition in support, but US District Judge Jack B. Weinstein dismissed the suit Thursday as having no legal basis. Leaders of Vietnam's Association for Victims of Agent Orange promised to appeal the decision. Lawyers for the plaintiffs also said they may turn to a settlement reached between Agent Orange manufacturers and US veterans in 1984 to push the case forward. A Vietnamese Foreign Ministry spokesman condemned the ruling [Vietnam News Agency report] on Friday, calling for accountability on the part of the chemical companies. The Vietnam News Agency has local coverage. AFP has more.
[JURIST] Authorities are reporting that several people were shot shortly after 9 AM ET at the Fulton County Court [official website] in Atlanta, GA. The District Attorney's office confirmed the shooting, but few details were released. Early media reports said a judge was among those shot, and the suspect escaped from the scene in a stolen car. AP has more.
10:45 AM ET - WSB-TV in Atlanta is reporting that Superior Court Judge Rowland Barnes was killed in the shooting, and a court reporter and two sheriff's deputies were wounded in the shooting. WSB-TV has more.
[JURIST] The Pentagon wants to cut in half the number of detainees currently held at Guantanamo Bay by tranferring many prisoners out of the country to facilities in Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Yemen, according to a report published in Friday's New York Times. According to unidentified officials, the plan, first laid out by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in a February 5 memo, was partly prompted by court rulings that made it possible for detainees held at the US military base to challenge their detentions in US federal court [JURIST report]. The same sources told the Times that the Pentagon expected opposition from the CIA, the State Department, and the Department of Justice; the CIA has recently come under severe criticism for tranferring some of its detainees internationally, and the State Department would be responsible for negotiating agreements with destination countries to ensure that prisoners transferred there would be treated humanely and not tortured. The New York Times has more [registration required]; Reuters provides a detailed summary.
[JURIST] Skeptics on and off Capitol Hill Thursday assailed a new report on military interrogation practices authored by US Navy chief of staff and former Inspector General Admiral Albert T. Church that effectively concluded that the Pentagon's civilian and military leadership was not to blame for abuses of prisoners by US personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan. The accountability of senior officials was not the focus of the report, but Church said that he had no evidence to suggest that senior officials encouraged or pressured lower-level officers to do anything that would have resulted in the abuses which occured, for which he offered no explanation. Democratic members of the Senate Armed Services Committee [official website] before which Church testified Thursday morning suggested that having someone in the military chain of command investigating the accountability of higher-ups in the same chain of command was problematic, and that there was therefore a need for an independent investigation. They also insisted that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld take responsibility for creating an environment where abuses were possible and did in fact occur. Republicans sought to defend the military and the legitimacy of Church's conclusions. Human rights groups meanwhile expressed concern at the report, with Amnesty International calling for it to be published in full (only the 21-page executive summary [DOD text, PDF] is publicly available) and similarly pressed for an independent probe. Read the Amnesty International press release on the report. The Defense Department has posted a transcript of a Thursday afternoon Pentagon briefing with Admiral Church. AP has more.
[JURIST] A proposed anti-terror law pitted the UK House of Lords and House of Commons against each other in a ferocious debate Thursday night and Friday morning as amended and re-amended versions of the Prevention of Terrorism Bill [official text of legislation as introduced] bounced between the two chambers and Prime Minister Tony Blair and his ministers fought to push their policy preferences through Parliament before current government powers to hold terror suspects without charge or trial expire on Monday, forcing the release of eight allegedly dangerous suspects from London's Belmarsh prison. An English judge said Thursday he had already approved the releases "in principle." In what some observers described as "chaotic" scenes, Blair and UK Home Secretary Charles Clarke repeatedly invoked the democratic legitimacy of the elected Commons where a Labour party majority favored the legislation, while the Lords - dominated by Conservatives and Liberal Democrats - made their stand on civil liberties principles and on the importance of holding the government accountable to a rule of law superior to arbitrary power. Much debate and disagreement centered on the Lords' insistence on a "sunset clause" that would impose a strict 12-month time limit on the lifetime of the bill.
At press time the bill had returned to the Commons for a fourth time with the sunset clause re-inserted. JURIST will carry today's debate live on our front page (check the Live Webcasts links on the right side of your screen). If all else fails, Blair and the Commons can force through their legislation by invoking the Parliament Act, allowing the Lords to be effectively overridden, but with a general election likely pending in the next few months such a move would be politically dangerous. AFP has more. BBC News provides continuing local coverage and an earlier video report.
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