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Phuket Gazette: Ecuador to decide Assange’s asylum request today

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Phuket Gazette: Ecuador to decide Assange’s asylum request today | The Thaiger

PHUKET MEDIA WATCH
– World news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Ecuador to decide on Assange’s asylum today
Phuket Gazette / News Wires
PHUKET: The Ecuadorian government could make a decision today on the fate of Julian Assange, founder of the controversial whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks, an official said late yesterday.

Assange had requested political asylum at Ecuador’s embassy in London on Tuesday.

Ecuador’s deputy foreign minister Marco Albuja told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) yesterday that, “We can’t make a final decision public until tomorrow. The national government is considering its position and the president will give us his instructions tomorrow.”

In his request for political refuge, Assange told the embassy that the government of Australia – where he was born – had abandoned him and that he is being persecuted politically. He also fears being extradited to the United States, where he says he believes he could be sentenced to death if he is indicted.

“Such statements make it impossible for me to return to my home country and put me in a state of helplessness by being requested to be interrogated by the Kingdom of Sweden, where its top officials have openly attacked me, and investigated me for political crimes in the United States of America, a country where the death penalty for such offences is still in force,” Assange said in his request on Tuesday.

Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño said the government is evaluating the request and assured it will take into account the rules and principles of international law and human rights.

His country’s embassy in London says Assange will remain in the compound, under the protection of the Ecuadorian government, until a decision is made.

Yesterday morning Ecuadorian Ambassador Anna Alban met with British officials to discuss Assange’s application for asylum. “The discussions were cordial and constructive,” Alban said. “I also emphasized to the UK government that it was not the intention of the Ecuadorian government to interfere with the processes of either the UK or Swedish governments.”

Assange’s choice to seek asylum at the Ecuadorian Embassy surprised many, especially because of Ecuador’s bad record when it comes to press freedom and accusations that President Rafael Correa is leading a relentless campaign against free speech, but senior government officials have previously welcomed WikiLeaks.

In November 2010, then-deputy foreign minister Kintto Lucas invited Assange to visit Ecuador and offered him residency. “We are open to giving him residency in Ecuador, without any problem and without any conditions,” he said at the time, although the Ecuadorian government later said Lucas was speaking on his personal behalf.

Nonetheless, Correa voiced his support for WikiLeaks in a recent interview with Assange for his TV series ‘World Tomorrow’. “We have nothing to hide. If anything, the WikiLeaks have made us stronger, as the main accusations made…were due to our excessive nationalism and defense of the sovereignty of the Ecuadorian government,” he said.

Correa added: “On the other hand, many WikiLeaks cables spoke about the interests in the national media about the power groups who go to seek help, to foster relationships with foreign embassies, and benefit from the embassy’s contacts. Here we fear absolutely nothing. Let them publish everything they have about the Ecuadorian Government.”

Also yesterday Scotland Yard said Assange has breached one of his bail conditions and will be arrested once he leaves the embassy compound. “As Mr Assange is in the Ecuadorean embassy he is in diplomatic territory and beyond the reach of the police,” Britain’s foreign office said in a statement. Police officers could be seen waiting outside the embassy compound.

Assange has been fighting extradition from Britain to Sweden where he faces allegations of sexual molestation, unlawful coercion and rape. A London court dismissed Assange’s appeal in November 2011 and the UK Supreme Court earlier this month rejected his bid to reopen the case.

The accusations are unrelated to Assange’s work for WikiLeaks which brought diplomatic earthquakes to the United States when it began releasing classified American documents that it had obtained. Assange has claimed the cases have been politically-linked, arguing that the sexual encounters with the two women in Sweden were consensual.

WikiLeaks’ first big scoop was on April 5, 2010, when it released a classified video which showed a 2007 U.S. helicopter attack in Iraq which left several civilians killed, including two unarmed Reuters journalists. Assange previously said he had been told to expect ”dirty tricks” from the Pentagon, including ”sex traps” to ruin his reputation.

— Phuket Gazette Editors



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Elderly mother of murdered Thai woman is seeking help to bring her daughter’s body home

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Elderly mother of murdered Thai woman is seeking help to bring her daughter’s body home | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Matichononline

The family of a Thai woman murdered in northern Portugal in March is now calling for assistance with the cost of repatriating the body back to Thailand.

According to Portuguese media the woman, Natchaya Saranyaphat, was murdered on March 7 by another Thai woman. Natchaya’s head was found on the Leca da Palmeira beach, 300 kilometres north of Lisbon on the Atlantic coast.

The dead woman’s 76 year old mother from the north-eastern Surin province says that Natchaya was the youngest of her five children. She says her daughter had been working in Portugal and been sending back up to 6,000 per month. Another Thai woman, Sangam Sawaiprkhon, has since been arrested in Portugal as a suspect in the murder of Natchaya, allegedly over a disagreement about 358,000 baht. They had jointly invested in a massage shop in Portugal.

The woman’s elderly mother says she needs help from the provincial or Thai government as her family is very poor and unable to pay for the retune of her daughter’s body for burial.

A Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson says they had received a report from the Royal Thai embassy in Lisbon and local police about the murder and the arrest of the Thai suspect in Portugal.

Elderly mother of murdered Thai woman is seeking help to bring her daughter's body home | News by The Thaiger

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Southeast Asia

LATEST: Sri Lanka bombings

The Thaiger

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LATEST: Sri Lanka bombings | The Thaiger

A wave of explosions rocked Sri Lanka up-scale hotels and churches on Easter Sunday around the capital Colombo. This is what we know…

• At least 215 people have been confirmed dead with up to 450 more injured in a series of bombings targeting churches holding Easter services and hotels in Sri Lanka. The toll is likely to rise during today or at least become more precise as officials tally information from emergency responders.

• Most of the dead are said to be Sri Lankans, but officials say up to 40 foreigners have lost their lives.

• Three UK nationals and two US-UK dual nationals were among the dead. One Dutch, one Chinese, one Portuguese and two Turkish nationals have been killed, their respective foreign ministries have confirmed.

• There were six initial blasts, at three hotels and three churches, before two more explosions some time later, at a guest house and housing scheme, with two people reported to have been killed at the former. A government minister says the last two blasts appeared to have been carried out by the culprits as they fled from police.

• No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks but Sri Lanka’s defence minister Ruwan Wijewardene claims the culprits have been identified and were religious extremists. He said suicide bombers were responsible for the majority of the morning’s bombings and that the wave of attacks was the work of a single group.

• Eight people are reported to have been arrested so far.

• The Sri Lankan government has issued a curfew and shut down social media and messaging services to prevent the spread of disinformation.

• Sri Lanka’s PM, Ranil Wickremesinghe, has condemned the “cowardly” attacks and urged people to remain “united and strong”.

• The archbishop of Colombo, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, called it “a very sad day” and is urging the government to identify the attackers and “punish them mercilessly because only animals can behave like that”.

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Southeast Asia

Mitsubishi testing their new regional jet

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Mitsubishi testing their new regional jet | The Thaiger

PHOTO: The Japan Times

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ new 88-passenger Mitsubishi Regional Jet is testing the skies just as rivals Embraer and Bombardier are moving to sell off their manufacturing operations for jets with up to 160 seats to Boeing and Airbus.

At stake, particularly in the market for jets with fewer seats, is US$135 billion in sales in the two decades through 2037, according to industry group Japan Aircraft Development.

More cities in Asia and Europe are seeking to link up with each other and the Mitsubishi Regional Jet, the first airliner built in Japan since the 1960s, began certification flights last month in Moses Lake, Washington.

With fewer seats and smaller fuselages, regional jets are a different class of aircraft from larger narrow-body planes such as Boeing’s 737 or Airbus’s A320. The MRJ has a range of about 3,220 kilometres. The seating is 2+2 instead of 3+3 in a small Airbus or Boeing single-aisle jet.

After spending at least US$2 billion over more than a decade, the manufacturer is looking to get its jet certified and start deliveries to launch partner ANA Holdings.

Mitsubishi initially planned test flights in 2012 but blew past that deadline because of production difficulties. Now, the company, which makes ships, nuclear power plants and aerospace components, expects to have the plane ready for customers next year, a timetable that will test the company, said Mitsubishi Aircraft president Hisakazu Mizutani.

Mitsubishi Heavy is not the only Asian manufacturer betting that it can build aircraft cheaper and more efficiently. Commercial Aircraft of China (Comac) has a new regional jet in service, while Korea Aerospace Industries is studying whether to develop a 100-passenger aircraft.

“The aviation market in Asia is expected to grow further in the coming years and there will be demand for these aircraft,” said analyst Lee Dong-heon at Daishin Securities in Seoul.

“The shift in the regional aviation segment we have seen over the last year or so has opened opportunities.”

“The MRJ is fully capable of competing in the market.”

Mitsubishi testing their new regional jet | News by The Thaiger

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