[JURIST] A spokesman for the government of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad [official website; BBC profile] has urged Iranian prosecutors to pursue charges against several Iranian newspapers who have published articles accusing Ahmadinejad of financial wrongdoing in recent weeks. In a letter sent to Tehran's prosecutor, government spokesman Gholam Hossein Elham accused the media of "spreading lies" and said that the "bulk of false reports against the government should be followed up by the public prosecutor."
The Iranian government began a crackdown on independent media [JURIST report] earlier this year, prompting the Committee to Protect Journalists to particularly condemn Iran's record [JURIST report] in its annual report [text] on media repression. Several lawmakers have questioned the government's letter to the judiciary, saying that if it shouldn't appear that the government is making threats. AFP has more.
[JURIST] Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora [BBC profile] said Sunday that Israel had committed crimes against humanity during its month-long bombing campaign in the current Middle East conflict [JURIST news archive]. Touring areas outside of Beirut that had been hard hit by the bombings, Siniora called Israel's actions criminal, saying they reflected "Israel's hatred to destroy Lebanon and its unity." Siniora's comments came a day after Israeli forces raided a Hezbollah [CFR backgrounder] stronghold in Lebanon.
[JURIST] Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniya [BBC profile] on Sunday called for the release of Deputy Prime Minister and Hamas party member Nasser Shaer, who was arrested [AP report] Saturday morning after Israeli soldiers forced entry into an apartment where Shaer and his family have been hiding for several weeks. Israeli forces took Shaer for questioning as part of its latest crackdown against Hamas [CFR backgrounder] which began after a June 25 cross-border raid when Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip abducted an Israeli soldier. It remains unknown how Israeli forces tracked down Shaer, who has been using alternate routes to visit his office and has made no public appearances since the June 25 raid. Israeli officials said Shaer was arrested because he belongs to a terrorist organization.
[JURIST] US District Judge T. S. Ellis III has set aside the $10 million verdict [JURIST report] against private military contractor Custer Battles [corporate website], ruling that the former Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) [official website] in Iraq could not be considered a US government entity. Custer Battles was sued for defrauding the US government under the False Claims Act [text] and a federal jury found the company guilty of 37 fraudulent acts against the CPA, including establishing shell companies, forging invoices, inflating charges, and stealing equipment in an attempt to loot millions of dollars. The civil lawsuit was the first application of the Civil War-era False Claims Act to Iraq war contractors.
A lawsuit under the False Claims Act requires plaintiffs to prove that the defendant presented false claims against the US treasury. The US Justice Department had argued that because US government and military officials distributed CPA funds, fraud against the CPA is tantamount to fraud against the US government [JURIST report]. The jury determined that the False Claims Act applied to the US-financed CPA, but Ellis disagreed in an opinion last week, ruling that the plaintiffs in the lawsuit "failed to prove that the claims were presented to the United States." Ellis instead said that the CPA should be considered an international entity. The New York Times has more.
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