NSA Whistleblower ‘Disappears’ In Hong Kong

NSA Whistleblower 'Disappears' In Hong KongAn ex-CIA employee who leaked details of US top-secret phone and internet surveillance has disappeared from his hotel in Hong Kong. Edward Snowden, 29, checked out from his hotel on Monday. His whereabouts are unknown, but he is believed to be still in Hong Kong.

‘Criminal matter’

Earlier, he said he had an “obligation to help free people from oppression”. It emerged last week that US agencies were gathering millions of phone records and monitoring internet data. A spokesman for the US Office of the Director of National Intelligence said the case had been referred to the Department of Justice as a criminal matter.

Meanwhile a petition posted on the White House website, calling for Mr Snowden’s immediate pardon, has gathered more than 30,000 signatures. However an opinion poll commissioned by the Washington Post suggests a majority of Americans think government monitoring of phone records is acceptable if the aim is to fight terrorism.

‘Prism’

Mr Snowden was revealed as the source of the leaks at his own request by the UK’s Guardian newspaper. His revelations have caused transatlantic political fallout, amid allegations that the UK’s electronic surveillance agency, GCHQ, used the US system to snoop on British citizens. Foreign Secretary William Hague cancelled a trip to Washington to address the UK parliament on Monday and deny the claims.

On Thursday, the Washington Post and Guardian said the NSA tapped directly into the servers of nine internet firms including Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo to track online communication in a programme known as Prism. All the internet companies deny giving the US government access to their servers. Prism is said to give the NSA and FBI access to emails, web chats and other communications directly from the servers of major US internet companies.

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Source: BBC News

Image: The Raw Story

Iranian Woman Sentenced to Die by Stoning or Hanging

A woman sentenced to die by stoning will be executed, Iranian officials said Monday, but the method of execution is still being debated, according to an Iranian media report. Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani’s case drew international attention after she was sentenced to die by stoning for adultery.

“This lady is accused of two crimes,” Hojatoleslam Sharifi, the judiciary chief of Eastern Azarbaijan province, said at a news conference Monday, the semi-official Iran Student’s News Agency reported. “One is adultery, which is punishable by stoning to death, and the other is assisting in her husband’s murder. She is currently serving 10 years for helping to kill her husband.”

Officials have decided to await Larijani’s decision. Since Ashtiani is currently serving time, “we agreed there is no hurry,” Sharifi said.

“What I can tell you now is that we are waiting to see if someone who has been sentenced to be executed by stoning could be executed by hanging instead.”

Ashtiani, a mother of two, will be executed as soon as a decision is reached, Sharifi said. She was convicted of adultery in 2006 and was later convicted of being an accessory to murder in her husband’s death. Her family has denied that she played any role in the death.

Human rights groups and various governments have urged Iran not to execute Ashtiani. Last year, European Union High Representative Catherine Ashton demanded that Iran stop the execution from proceeding, and British Foreign Minister William Hague called the proposed stoning a “barbaric punishment.”

 

Source: CNN.com

Image: ABC News