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Russia-Ukraine war: CNN, Bloomberg suspend work in Moscow | Russia-Ukraine war News



CNN and Bloomberg News have become the latest global media outlets to suspend their operations in Russia after President Vladimir Putin signed into law a new bill that punishes the spreading of “fake news” with jail terms of up to 15 years.

CNN said on Friday that it was halting broadcasting in Russia as it continues “to evaluate the situation and our next steps forward”, while Bloomberg said it was temporarily suspending news gathering in the country.

The decisions follow similar moves earlier by BBC, ABC, CBS News and Canada’s CBC/Radio-Canada.

Bloomberg’s Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait said he greatly regretted the suspension.

“The change to the criminal code, which seems designed to turn any independent reporter into a criminal purely by association, makes it impossible to continue any semblance of normal journalism inside the country,” he said. “We will not do that to our reporters.”

The legal changes came as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine drew near-universal condemnation, as well as global sanctions, including a ban on Russian news network RT in many Western nations for what the European Union called systematic disinformation about the conflict.

Moscow has sought to hit back in the information war, with officials saying its enemies – such as the United States and the EU – are spreading false information in an attempt to sow discord among the Russian people.

It earlier cut access to several foreign news organisations’ websites, including the BBC, Voice of America and Deutsche Welle, while communications regulator Roskomnadzor also moved to block Meta Platform Inc’s Facebook. The regulator cited 26 cases of discrimination against Russian media.

The Russian state-owned TASS news agency meanwhile reported that Russia also restricted access to Twitter.

The new law escalates the crackdown, and news executives said they were worried it could imperil their journalists, stressing that organizations must balance the obligation to audiences to report the news with protecting journalists against retaliation.

BBC Director General Tim Davie said the new legislation appeared to criminalise the process of independent journalism.

“It leaves us no other option than to temporarily suspend the work of all BBC News journalists and their support staff within the Russian Federation while we assess the full implications of this unwelcome development,” he said in a statement.

He added that the BBC News Service in Russian would continue to operate from outside Russia. Jonathan Munro, an interim director of BBC News, said the corporation was not “pulling out” journalists from Moscow but assessing the new law’s effect.

The Washington Post, Dow Jones and the Reuters news agency said they were evaluating the new media law and the situation.

“Our top priorities are the safety of our employees and covering this important story fairly and fully,” said Dow Jones Spokesperson Steve Severinghaus. “Being in Moscow, freely able to talk to officials and capture the mood, is key to that mission.”

Some well-known media outlets within Russia have chosen to close rather than face heavy restrictions on what they can report. News website Znak said it was closing Friday morning, shortly after the parliament approved the draft bill.

On Thursday, Russia’s top independent radio station Ekho Moskvy was closed, and independent TV station Dozdh suspended operations after receiving a threat of closure from the authorities.

Meanwhile, Russia’s Novaya Gazeta newspaper, whose editor Dmitry Muratov was a co-winner of last year’s Nobel Peace Prize, said it would remove material on Russia’s military actions in Ukraine from its website because of censorship.

The newspaper said it would continue to report on the consequences that Russia is facing, including a deepening economic crisis and the persecution of dissidents.

Officials also pressed ahead with a sweeping effort to target human rights organizations.

Authorities raided the offices of Memorial, one of Russia’s oldest and most prominent human rights organizations. According to its members, police didn’t provide any explanation, and there were no warnings.

“The police refused to let me and the lawyer in without explanation, and when I tried not to let in the reinforcement officers who arrived in bulletproof vests and masks, they threatened to use force if I did not let them in,” the chairman of International Memorial Yan Rachinsky said. “This is the level of justice today in the capital of Russia.”

Another leading human rights group, the Civic Assistance, also saw its Moscow office raided.







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Gambian government says it will prosecute exiled ex-ruler Jammeh | Courts News



The Gambian government has said it will prosecute former President Yahya Jammeh for murder, rape, torture and other alleged crimes committed during his more than 20-year rule.

The Ministry of Justice said on Wednesday that it accepted all but two of the 265 recommendations made by a commission that probed alleged crimes committed by the state under the despotic former leader from July 1994 to January 2017.

The commission’s report – presented to President Adama Barrow and made public in December – was based on years of witness testimonies.

Jammeh is currently living in exile in Equatorial Guinea, which has no extradition treaty with the Gambia.

The government said it would prosecute all 70 alleged perpetrators named in the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission’s twice-delayed report, including former Vice President Isatou Njie-Saidy and members of the so-called “Junglers” hit squad.

“For 22 years, Yahya Jammeh ruled The Gambia with an iron fist,” the government wrote in a white paper.

“During his regime, extrajudicial killings, rape, torture, enforced disappearances, and numerous grievous human rights violations became part and parcel of his military Junta.”

Al Jazeera’s Ahmed Idris, reporting from the capital Banjul, said “victims, survivors, victims’ families, activists, diplomats – everybody came here this morning with expectations that they will be disappointed at the end of the day”.

Many said they want to see these recommendations put into action by the government of the Gambia, Idris added.

Emmanuel Daniel Joof, head of Gambia’s national human rights commission, said: “We believe seriously that the government will own up, and these recommendations will be implemented.”

“We also understand that not everything will be implemented,” he told Al Jazeera.

‘World is watching’

Meanwhile, Abdoulie Fatty, a former local legal consultant for the commission, called the government’s decision “unprecedented” and said “This level of acceptance of recommendations by the government is extraordinary.”

“The fact that there is a strong emphasis for the prosecution of Jammeh and those who bear the greatest responsibility sends a strong message that government is serious about pursuing him and ensuring that he’s held accountable for his crimes,” he said.

The government said it was developing a “prosecution strategy” and would set up a special court located within the Gambia, with “the option of holding sittings in other countries”.

The truth commission had recommended prosecuting Jammeh and his accomplices in an internationalised tribunal in another West African country.

“Impunity is a kind of incentive that we are not prepared to serve perpetrators,” Justice Minister Dawda Jallow said in a speech Wednesday.

“Their resolve to commit these atrocities cannot be stronger than our collective will as a society to hold them to account.”

Human rights groups say arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances and summary executions became the regime’s hallmark. Testimonies by alleged perpetrators before the truth commission confirmed that some killings were done under Jammeh’s direction.

The former president has also been accused of administering phony HIV “treatment” programmes and of the massacre of some 50 African migrants in 2005.

The commission recommended prosecuting the former president and 69 other alleged perpetrators. The government had until Wednesday to respond.

Jammeh was forced into exile in early 2017 after his shock electoral defeat to Barrow and a six-week crisis that led to military intervention by other West African states.

Barrow, who was re-elected in December, last year formed a political alliance with Jammeh’s former party and nominated two known Jammeh supporters as speaker and deputy speaker of parliament.

“Barrow and his government know that the world is watching, [so] they did not have much choice but to accept the TRRC recommendations,” said Nana-Jo N’dow, the founder of an NGO that campaigns against enforced disappearances and summary executions, whose own father disappeared in 2013.

“The question now is whether Barrow follows through on these recommendations, and swiftly.”

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Afghanistan: Deadly explosions hit Kabul, Mazar-i-Sharif | Taliban News



At least 11 killed in a series of separate explosions that hit a mosque in Kabul and vehicles in northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif.

A series of explosions in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif has killed nine people while a blast at a mosque in the capital Kabul left at least two worshippers dead, according to officials.

A bomb exploded inside a mosque in the capital Kabul late on Wednesday, killing at least two people and wounding 10 others, the interior ministry said.

Kabul’s Emergency hospital tweeted that five people had been killed in the mosque blast and 22 others wounded.

Al Jazeera could not independently verify the death toll.

Several ambulances rushed to the mosque in Kabul to ferry the victims of the blast, witnesses said.

There were no further details on the blast that struck the Hazrat Zakaria Mosque in the city’s central Police District 4, according to Khalid Zadran, a Taliban police spokesman in Kabul.

“The blast took place while people were inside the mosque for the evening prayers,” Zadran said, adding that they were waiting for an update.

Minibuses were targeted in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif and explosive devices were placed inside the vehicles, according to Mohammad Asif Waziri, a Taliban-appointed spokesman in Balkh province. He said the explosions killed nine and wounded 15.

“The bombs were placed on three minibuses in different districts of the city,” Waziri said, adding that 15 other people were wounded.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the explosions.

The number of bomb attacks have dropped across the country since the Taliban seized power last year in August, but several cities were rocked by bombings during the holy month of Ramadan.

Dozens of civilians were killed in Ramadan in the primarily sectarian attacks – some claimed by a regional affiliate of the ISIL (ISIS) group known as the Islamic State in Khorasan Province, ISKP (ISIS-K).

The ISKP, which has been operating in Afghanistan since 2014, is being seen as the greatest security challenge facing the country’s Taliban rulers.

Following their takeover, the Taliban has launched a sweeping crackdown against the ISKP headquarters in eastern Afghanistan.

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Al Jazeera demands Reuters retracts ‘editorial error’ | News



Reuters attributed mistranslation of Qatari foreign minister’s comments to Al Jazeera, which was not the original source.

Al Jazeera Media Network has demanded that Reuters retract a news report that attributes a misquote of the Qatari foreign minister to Al Jazeera.

The report, published on Saturday, quoted the Qatari foreign minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, as saying that Iran was willing to “compromise” in negotiations with the United States to restore its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

However, the foreign minister had actually said that Iran had informed Qatar that the revival of the nuclear deal was “under review”.

The initial misquote was the result of an error from the German newspaper Handelsblatt, which was picked up by Reuters and then carried by Qatari news outlets, including Al Jazeera.

“The Reuters agency insisted on attributing the original story to Al Jazeera, claiming that the channel had caught and corrected a translation error, something that has no basis in fact,” the Al Jazeera statement said. “The correction was issued by the original source for the news.”

The Iranian foreign ministry rejected the reports and said that Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had made no mention of compromise to Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, during a meeting in Tehran earlier in May.

“It is very clear from the context of the leader’s remarks that the ball is in the US court, which must make wise political decisions to fulfil its obligations,” Iranian foreign ministry spokesman, Saeed Khatibzadeh, said on Saturday.

Statement in full:

Al Jazeera demands that Reuters correct professional errors

Al Jazeera Media Network has demanded that the Reuters news agency retract and correct editorial errors made in attributing to Al Jazeera the most recent statements by the foreign minister of Qatar regarding the Iranian nuclear file.

Al Jazeera said in a letter to Reuters that its regional office in Dubai attributed the original news and its subsequent correction to Al Jazeera, even though a German newspaper was the original source for the news item.

That news item was then carried by the Qatar News Agency, the Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other media outlets, including Al Jazeera.

However, the Reuters agency insisted on attributing the original story to Al Jazeera, claiming that the channel had caught and corrected a translation error, something that has no basis in fact. The correction was issued by the original source for the news.

In its letter to Reuters, Al Jazeera called for accuracy and professionalism and that the agency correct the matter immediately.

An official source at Al Jazeera said the Reuters regional office in Dubai had deliberately maintained the attribution and had not corrected it, which flies in the face of professional ethics. He added that the agency should have reviewed and scrutinised the work of its office in Dubai and monitored its performance, which should not be subject to any non-professional considerations.


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