Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Operation Lionfish: Police seize 30 metric tons of drugs in Central America, Caribbean

Police seize 30 metric tons of drugs in Central America, Caribbean

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AMSTERDAM | Wed Jul 3, 2013 6:58am EDT
AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - About 30 metric tons of cocaine, heroin and marijuana with a street value of $822 million was seized in Central America and the Caribbean last month in one of the biggest international drug hauls, pan-European police force Europol said.
It said Operation Lionfish, which targeted the maritime trafficking of drugs and illicit firearms by organized crime groups across Central America and the Caribbean, yielded the arrest of 142 people and seizure of 15 vessels as well as guns, cash, and eight metric tons of chemical precursors.
The international operation was carried out from May 27 to June 10, a Europol spokesman said, and an investigation into the source of the drugs was under way. No details were released of the nationalities of those arrested.
More than 30 countries and territories were involved in the operation, led by Interpol and supported by Europol.
"The operation was coordinated in response to growing evidence of the organized crime in the trafficking of drugs and firearms in the Central America and Caribbean regions due to its strategic location," Europol said in a statement.
(Reporting by Ivana Sekularac; editing by Mark Heinrich)

Putin: Snowden must stop ‘harming our American partners’ to stay in Russia

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Russian President Vladimir Putin, seen here at his end-of-year press conference in 2012, says Russia will not hand over fugitive NSA contractor Edward Snowden to the United States.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said at a press conference on Monday that Russia won’t grant fugitive National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden asylum if he continues leaking US secrets.
After exposing the NSA’s PRISM surveillance program, Snowden fled to Hong Kong and then to Moscow. He has been living in the transit zone of Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport for the past week.
More from GlobalPost: Snowden strains US-Russia relations
Putin said Russia wouldn’t hand the American over to US authorities but said Snowden “must stop his work aimed at harming our American partners" if he wants to stay in Russia, Reuters reported.
Snowden “is not a Russian agent,” Putin said, according to Reuters, adding that Russian intelligence agents were not working with him while he was holed up in the airport.
In an interview with state television channel Rossiya 24 on Monday, the head of Russia's Security Council, Nikolai Patrushev, said Putin and US President Barack Obama have ordered their security agency chiefs to find a way out of the Snowden situation, Agence France-Presse reported.
"Of course (Putin and Obama) don't have a solution now that would work for both sides, so they have ordered the FSB director (Alexander) Bortnikov and FBI director Robert Mueller to keep in constant contact and find solutions," Patrushev said.
Speaking at a press conference in Tanzania, Obama wouldn’t confirm this, but he did say the US and Russia have held high-level talks about extraditing Snowden, the Associated Press reported.
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Edward Snowden Applies for Asylum in More than 20 Countries

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MOSCOW — Fugitive former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden has applied for asylum in at least 20 countries, but he has dropped his bid for permanent refuge in Russia.
WikiLeaks’ legal adviser Sarah Harrison submitted the asylum requests for Edward Snowden by delivering the documents to an official at the Russian Consulate at Moscow’s Sheremetevo airport, where Snowden has been holed up for more than a week, in a sort of diplomatic purgatory.
Snowden has been on the run since last month, after releasing secret NSA documents that detailed U.S. surveillance of domestic and international telephone and Internet use.
Among the countries where Snowden is seeking asylum are Poland, Germany, Iceland, Austria and Ecuador. But European leaders say that Snowden most likely would have to be on a country’s soil in order to be granted asylum.
Snowden also applied for asylum in India.
Syed Akbaruddin, a spokesman for India’s Foreign Ministry, said, "I can confirm that earlier today our embassy in Moscow did receive a communication from Edward Snowden. That communication did contain a request for asylum. We have carefully examined the request. Following that careful examination, we have concluded that we see no reason to accede to that request."
In a statement - his first public comment since coming to Russia - Snowden said President Barack Obama is trying to persuade countries not to give him asylum.
Snowden withdrew his asylum request to Russia when he learned President Vladimir Putin would consider it only if he stopped leaking U.S. secrets. But Mr. Putin says Russia will not send Snowden back to America to face charges of espionage.
Mr. Putin met with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro Tuesday in Moscow. News reports say they discussed Snowden but Mr. Maduro later told reporters his country has not received an asylum application from the American.
The Venezuelan leader said Snowden deserves protection under international and humanitarian law.
After arriving in Moscow from Hong Kong on June 23, Snowden was reported to have initially booked flights to Havana, Cuba, and then on to Caracas, Venezuela, before becoming trapped in legal limbo. 
WikiLeaks said asylum requests have also been made to Bolivia, Brazil, China, Cuba, France, India, Italy, Ireland, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Spain and Venezuela.
Meanwhile, Poland joined several staunch U.S. allies in Europe who are demanding an explanation from Washington about allegations, based on Snowden leaks, that U.S. agencies spied on European Union communications.

NY's Gay Pride March Rides a New Wave of Momentum - CNN iReport

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