- Skirmishes in Turkey after police storm Istanbul square
- Mali government, Tuaregs reach ceasefire deal 'in principle'
- U.S. soldier in WikiLeaks case said video would cause splash -aunt
Posted: 11 Jun 2013 05:42 PM PDT
ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkish riot police fought running battles with pockets of protesters overnight after storming a central Istanbul square in a show of force that risked ratcheting up tensions almost two weeks after anti-government demonstrations began.
Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, who has repeatedly dismissed the demonstrators as "riff-raff", was expected to meet protest leaders on Wednesday though one core group said it had not been invited and would not attend anyway.
Police fired volleys of tear gas canisters into the centre of a crowd of thousands on Taksim Square without warning at dusk on Tuesday. The crowd included people in office clothes gathered after work and families with children, as well as youths in masks who had fought skirmishes throughout the day.
Clouds of choking tear gas sent them scattering into side streets. Staff in surrounding hotels raised shutters just enough to allow people to crawl inside for shelter, as water cannon swept across the square targeting stone-throwing youths.
The fierce crackdown on the initial protests against the planned redevelopment of Gezi Park, a leafy corner of Taksim, drew international condemnation and calls for restraint. The latest police move came a day after Erdogan agreed to meet protest leaders involved in the initial demonstrations.
"There's no room for dialogue when there's ongoing violence," said Mucella Yapici of the Taksim Solidarity Platform, a core group behind the Gezi Park campaign.
Chanting gangs of hard-core demonstrators taunted police in the narrow lanes leading down to the Bosphorus waterway late into the night, drawing more tear gas and water cannon spray. Municipal workers used bulldozers to remove the remains of vandalised vehicles and clear the square above.
Police also fired water cannon to disperse protesters in the centre of the capital, Ankara.
Erdogan earlier called on protesters to stay out of Taksim, where a heavy-handed police crackdown on a rally against development of Gezi Park triggered an unprecedented wave of protest in cities across Turkey almost two weeks ago.
Gezi Park has been turned into a ramshackle settlement of tents by leftists, environmentalists, liberals, students and professionals who see the development plan as symptomatic of an overbearing government.
The authorities have said legitimate protesters in the park will be allowed to stay, for now, and they remained camped out.
The protests, during which demonstrators used fireworks and petrol bombs, have posed a stark challenge to Erdogan's authority and divided the country. Erdogan, who denies accusations of authoritarian behaviour, said he would not yield.
"They say the prime minister is rough. So what was going to happen here? Were we going to kneel down in front of these (people)?" Erdogan said as action to clear the square began.
"If you call this roughness, I'm sorry, but this Tayyip Erdogan won't change," he told a meeting of his AK party's parliamentary group on Tuesday.
Western powers have voiced concern about the troubles in an important NATO ally bordering Syria, Iraq and Iran. The United States has in the past held up Erdogan's Turkey as an Islamic democracy that could be emulated elsewhere in the Middle East.
"We continue to follow events in Turkey with concern, and our interest remains supporting freedom of expression and assembly, including the right to peaceful protest," White House spokesman Caitlin Hayden said in a statement in Washington.
The victor in three consecutive elections, Erdogan says the protests are engineered by vandals, terrorist elements and unnamed foreign forces. His critics, who say conservative religious elements have won out over centrists in the AK Party, accuse him of inflaming the crisis with unyielding talk.
The unrest has knocked investor confidence in a country that has boomed under Erdogan. The lira, already suffering from wider market turmoil, fell on Tuesday to its weakest level against its dollar/euro basket since October 2011.
The cost of insuring Turkish debt against default rose to its highest in 10 months, although it remained far from crisis levels.
Turkey's Medical Association said that as of late Monday, 4,947 people had sought treatment in hospitals and voluntary infirmaries for injuries, ranging from cuts and burns to breathing difficulties from tear gas inhalation, since the unrest began more than 10 days ago. Three people have died.
(Additional reporting by Can Sezer, Ayla Jean Yackley in Istanbul, Parisa Hafezi, Humeyra Pamuk in Ankara and Jeff Mason in Washington; Writing by Nick Tattersall; editing by Christopher Wilson)
Copyright © 2013 Reuters
Posted: 11 Jun 2013 04:39 PM PDT
OUAGADOUGOU (Reuters) - A Malian government delegation and Tuareg separatist rebels have reached an agreement "in principle" that would allow planned elections in July to go ahead in the disputed northern Kidal region, a senior mediator in the talks said late on Monday.
Negotiations in Ouagadougou, the capital of neighbouring Burkina Faso, opened on Saturday, after Mali's army last week began advancing towards Kidal, the MNLA rebels' last stronghold in the remote northeast, in the first direct fighting in months.
France launched a massive military campaign in January which broke al Qaeda-linked Islamist fighters' control over the northern two-thirds of Mali. However it allowed the Tuaregs to regain control of their traditional fiefdom.
The Malian government has made clear that it wants civil administration and the army to return to Kidal before elections scheduled for July 28 and had threatened to seize the town if no agreement was reached by Monday.
"On the point concerning the deployment of Malian armed forces in the region of Kidal, we have obtained an agreement in principle," Djibril Bassole, Burkina's foreign minister, told journalists following a round of meetings.
"The two sides have requested a few hours to report back to their bases ... in order to be able to come back tomorrow for the final adoption of this document," he said.
In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the United States hoped the talks "will set the stage for long-term national reconciliation."
"We call on the parties to conclude a framework agreement for elections in Kidal without delay," Psaki told reporters.
Mali's Tuareg community has for decades demanded greater political autonomy from the southern capital of Bamako and more spending on development for the impoverished region, which they call Azawad.
The MNLA launched its uprising early last year and soon allied itself with Islamist fighters who took advantage of a coup in the capital in March 2012 to seize the desert north. They were later sidelined by the better armed Islamist groups.
France, which is handing over to a U.N. peacekeeping mission due in Mali next month, has pushed hard for elections to go ahead in order to seal a democratic transition.
However, the MNLA has so far refused to disarm and rejected the return of Malian soldiers to Kidal.
Bassole said the agreement would establish a mixed commission composed of both sides to monitor security and prepare for the army's deployment in Kidal.
Long-term solutions to Tuareg independence demands are expected to wait until after the elections, since the interim government lacks the political authority to make a far-reaching deal with northern armed groups.
"All the arrangements are foreseen in the accord to avoid any incident, any disagreement that could break the trust and make us lose our objective, which is to organise the elections," Bassole said.
(Additional reporting by Lesley Wroughton in Washington.; Writing by Joe Bavier; editing by Christopher Wilson)
Copyright © 2013 Reuters
Posted: 11 Jun 2013 04:22 PM PDT
FORT MEADE, Maryland (Reuters) - The U.S. soldier accused of providing classified files to WikiLeaks told his aunt a leaked video of a helicopter attack in Iraq that killed civilians would cause a "big splash," she said in a statement at his court-martial on Tuesday.
Private First Class Bradley Manning's aunt, Debra Van Alstyne, told Army investigators about his comment when they talked to her at her Potomac, Maryland, home in June 2010, after his arrest, according to a statement read into the trial record.
Manning, 25, is on trial for allegedly leaking more than 700,000 files, videos and other documents to WikiLeaks, an anti-secrecy website. The largest release of classified data in U.S. history included a gunsight video from a 2007 Apache helicopter attack in Baghdad in which civilians were killed, including two Reuters staffers.
In the statement read by prosecutor Major Ashden Fein, Van Alstyne said an investigator collected a digital camera data card that was found to contain some of the leaked Iraq battlefield reports and the Apache video.
Manning called her after his arrest in May 2010 and asked if she had watched the helicopter video, Van Alstyne said in the statement. She said he told her it would be "big news" and that it would make "a big splash in America."
The soldier is accused of leaking the files while serving in Iraq as an intelligence analyst in 2009 and 2010. The 21 charges against him include aiding the enemy and he could face life imprisonment without parole if convicted.
Lawyers for Manning have described him as naive but well-intentioned in wanting to show the American public the reality of war in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Earlier on Tuesday, a Marine Corps computer security expert testified that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange had solicited secret U.S. military information during a 2009 conference in Berlin.
Marine Staff Sergeant Matthew Hosburgh, the expert, said he attended the conference, where Assange encouraged the release of "not only classified information, but also trade secrets and anything of that nature."
Assange has taken refuge in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London as he faces criminal sexual charges in Sweden. Assange, an Australian, says the charges are reprisal for WikiLeaks publishing information embarrassing to the United States and other governments.
Prosecution witness David Shaver, a government digital media forensic analyst, testified that he intercepted "chat logs" between Manning and computer threat analyst and hacker Adrian Lamo, in which Manning referred to information leaked to WikLeaks.
The chat logs, which are digital records of data exchanges over the Internet, show Manning talking about "Gitmo papers" and a 2009 U.S. airstrike in the Afghani village of Garani that killed 26 civilians, he said.
Lamo later reported Manning to U.S. authorities as the person responsible for disclosing the information to WikiLeaks.
Defence attorneys questioned Shaver about gaps and possible inaccuracies created by the computer programs he used to track the chat logs.
David Coombs, Manning's attorney, tried to show that, although Manning might have had access to the classified material, a computer believed to have been used to transfer information to WikiLeaks belonged to Jason Katz, a former Brookhaven National Laboratory computer expert.
Katz was fired in March 2010 from the Department of Energy laboratory for "inappropriate computer activity" about a month before WikiLeaks posted the Apache video.
Shaver said under Defence questioning that there were no telephone calls, emails or other evidence to link Manning with Katz.
Manning's trial coincides with the unauthorized release last week of information by a former National Security Agency contractor of widespread government telephone and Internet usage surveillance of private U.S. citizens not suspected of crimes.
(Writing by Ian Simpson; Editing by Scott Malone, Ellen Wulfhorst and Bernard Orr)
Copyright © 2013 Reuters
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