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Brazil protesters set ministry on fire

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Police fired rubber bullets and tear gas grenades during clashes

Angry demonstrators in Brasilia have started a fire inside the ministry of agriculture and have damaged several other ministerial buildings.

Brazilian authorities estimate around 35,000 are marching in the capital.

Troops are being deployed to defend government buildings and there is a heavy police presence on the streets.

Protesters are demanding the resignation of President Michel Temer, fresh elections, and for economic reform plans to be withdrawn.

Mr Temer has faced new corruption allegations in the last week, and is facing growing pressure to step down.

According to reports, several ministries are being evacuated because of the protests – but not before the agriculture ministry was damaged.

“There was an invasion of the ministry’s private entrance. They lit a fire in a room, broke photos in a gallery of ex-ministers and confronted police,” a spokesman told the AFP news agency.

There have been clashes between police and demonstrators and local media report one person has been injured and several have been detained.

Planned demonstrations began peacefully around midday before clashes with police erupted.

Police fired rubber bullets and tear gas at some demonstrators, and video footage showed other members of the crowd smashing windows or setting makeshift barriers afire.

Last week, testimony released by the country’s supreme court alleged that Mr Temer had taken millions of dollars in bribes since 2010.

The plea-bargain testimony came from bosses of a giant meat-packing firm.

In response, Mr Temer vowed to prove his innocence and remain as president while so doing.

On Saturday, he filed a petition to have the investigation suspended, but reversed that decision on Tuesday.

Mr Temer took office a year ago after his predecessor, President Dilma Rousseff, was impeached.

Source: BBC

Trump holds first talks with Pope

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Media captionDonald Trump was greeted by Pope Francis at the Vatican

US President Donald Trump has met Pope Francis for a short private audience on the third leg of his overseas trip.

The Vatican said after the meeting that there had been an “exchange of views” on several unspecified international issues, and spoke of the need to continue good bilateral relations.

The two men have already clashed at a distance on issues including migration and climate change.

Mr Trump is also meeting Italy’s president and prime minister.

Later, he will fly to Brussels for a Nato summit.

He earlier vowed to help Israelis and Palestinians achieve peace, as he ended the Middle East leg of his tour.

The US leader began his foreign trip with a two-day stop in Saudi Arabia over the weekend, urging Muslim countries to take the lead in combating radicalisation.

Much-anticipated meeting

Mr Trump and his entourage arrived at the Vatican just before 08:30, in a the meeting that was arranged at the last minute.

The US president was greeted by Archbishop Georg Ganswein, the head of the papal household, and escorted by the Swiss Guard to the offices of Pope Francis.

Correspondents say their initial greeting was cordial. Mr Trump told the Pope “it is a great honour”.

The two men spoke privately for about 20 minutes. The Vatican said later that they shared a commitment to “life, and freedom of worship and conscience” and expressed hope that they can collaborate “in service to the people in the fields of healthcare, education and assistance to migrants”.

On international affairs, their “exchange of views” covered the “promotion of peace in the world through political negotiation and interreligious dialogue”, and highlighted the need to protect Christian communities in the Middle East.

After the meeting, they exchanged gifts. Mr Trump gave the Pope a boxed set of writings by the civil rights leader Martin Luther King.

The Pope gave Mr Trump a signed copy of a message he delivered for World Peace Day, along with some of his writings about the need to protect the environment. “Well, I’ll be reading them,” Mr Trump told him.

And the entourage?

Mr Trump was joined not only by his wife, daughter and son-in-law but also Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and National Security Adviser HR McMaster.

Both Melania and Ivanka Trump were dressed in black with their heads partially covered, in keeping with a traditional Vatican protocol that is no longer expected to be rigorously observed.

Melania, a Catholic, asked the Pope to bless her rosary beads.

What next for Mr Trump’s trip?

Mr Trump followed his visit to the Vatican with talks with Italian President Sergio Mattarella at the Presidential Palace. Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni will later join him at the US ambassador’s residence.

This is Mr Trump’s first visit to Europe since taking office in January.

Security has been stepped up across Rome, with the areas around the Vatican City, the Italian presidential palace and the American ambassador’s residence, where Mr Trump is staying, temporarily closed to traffic.

Despite the heavy police presence, about 100 anti-Trump protesters held a rally in one of Rome’s squares on Tuesday evening.

Later on Wednesday, Mr Trump will fly to Brussels, where significant protests are expected.

For the EU and for Nato, this visit is about damage limitation with the fervent hope of establishing some kind of transatlantic chemistry, the BBC’s Europe editor Katya Adler says.

She adds that the tone in Brussels has gone from off-the-record sneering when the erratic and unpredictable Mr Trump first won the November elections, to outright concern now that the implications of his presidency have begun to sink in.

Mr Trump will end his tour on the Italian island of Sicily at the G7 summit on Friday.

Source: BBC

UK terror threat level raised to critical after Manchester bombing

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A further attack may be imminent in the UK, the Prime Minister Theresa May says, as the fourth victim of the Manchester bombing is named

The UK terror threat level has consequently been raised to its highest level of “critical”, Theresa May said

Military personnel will now be deployed to protect key sites under the new threat level.

Meanwhile the mother of Olivia Campbell has named her daughter as the fourth victim of Monday night’s Manchester bombing which killed 22 and injured 59.

Writing on Facebook, she paid tribute to her “precious” daughter, aged 15.

Olivia’s mother, Charlotte Campbell, had issued an emotional plea for information on her daughter’s whereabouts after the Ariana Grande concert.

The change in terror threat comes after investigators were unable to rule out whether suspect Salman Abedi acted alone, the prime minister said.

‘Sensible response’

The prime minister said soldiers would be placed in key public locations to support armed police in protecting the public.

Military personnel may also be seen at other events over the coming weeks, such as concerts, Mrs May said, working under the command of police officers.

BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner says the number of UK troops deployed will be in the hundreds not around the 5,000 figure being reported.

The prime minister said she did not want the public to feel “unduly alarmed” but said it was a “proportionate and sensible response”.

The highest threat level, which is decided by the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre – a group of experts from the police, government departments and agencies – has only been reached twice before.

Met Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley, who is the national counter-terrorism policing lead, said the investigation was “fast-moving and making good progress”.

“However, a critical line of inquiry is whether the dead terrorist was acting alone or part of a group,” he said.

“We still have critical lines of inquiry they’re chasing down which has led to a level of uncertainty.”

The first time the threat level was raised to critical was in 2006 during a major operation to stop a plot to blow up transatlantic airliners with liquid bombs.

The following year, security chiefs raised it once more as they hunted for the men who had tried to bomb a London nightclub, before going on to attack Glasgow Airport.

Former Salford University student Salman Abedi – understood to be a 22-year-old born in Manchester to parents of Libyan descent – is thought to have blown himself up in the arena’s foyer shortly after 22:30 BST on Monday.

Fans were beginning to leave a concert by US singer Ariana Grande.

Three of his victims have been named – Saffie Rose Roussos, eight, Georgina Callander – thought to be 18 – and John Atkinson, 28.

So-called Islamic State has said – via IS channels on the messaging app Telegram – it was behind the Manchester attack, but this has not been verified.

The wounded, who include 12 children aged under 16, are being treated at eight hospitals across Manchester.

Several people are still missing, including Eilidh MacLeod, 14, from Barra in the Outer Hebrides, Chloe Rutherford, 17, and Liam Curry, 19.

Eilidh’s friend, Laura MacIntyre, 15 – who was also reported as missing – was later identified as one of the seriously injured in a Manchester hospital.

Thousands of people turned out for the vigil in Manchester and to hold a minute’s silence to remember those who died.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Commons Speaker John Bercow stood on stage alongside Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham and Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable Ian Hopkins.Vigils have been held elsewhere, including in Birmingham, where the event was interrupted after a man apparently armed with a large knife and a baseball bat was detained nearby.

The arena bombing is the worst terrorist attack in the UK since the 7 July bombings in 2005, in which 52 people were killed by four suicide bombers.

Witnesses at the arena described seeing metal nuts and bolts among the debris of Monday’s bomb, and spoke about the fear and confusion that gripped concert-goers.

Andy Holey, who had gone to pick up his wife and daughter, said: “An explosion went off and it threw me about 30ft from one set of doors to the other set of doors.”

Emma Johnson, who was waiting for her children, aged 15 and 17, said: “The whole building shook.

There was a blast and then a flash of fire afterwards. There were bodies everywhere.”

Teenager Abigail Walker told the BBC: “I had to make sure I had my sister. I grabbed hold of her and pulled hard. Everyone was running and crying.

“It was absolutely terrifying.”

Source BBC

22 dead and scores hurt in Manchester blast

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Twenty-two people, including children, are now known to have been killed and 59 injured in a suspected terror attack at Manchester Arena.

The blast happened at 22:35 BST on Monday following a pop concert by the US singer Ariana Grande.

Greater Manchester Police said the lone male attacker, who died in the blast, was carrying an improvised explosive device which he detonated.

Relatives are using social media to hunt for missing loved ones.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd said it was “a barbaric attack, deliberately targeting some of the most vulnerable in our society”.

North West Ambulance Service said it had taken 59 casualties from the explosion to hospitals and treated a number of walking wounded, including for “shrapnel-like injuries”.

Greater Manchester Police has established an emergency telephone number in response to the attack. It is: 0161 856 9400.

In light of the attack, political parties have suspended campaigning ahead of the general election.
The prime minister has announced she will chair a meeting of the government’s emergency Cobra committee at around 09:00 BST.

Theresa May said: “We are working to establish the full details” of what happened in Manchester.

“All our thoughts are with the victims and the families of those who have been affected.”

BBC home affairs correspondent Daniel Sandford said senior counter-terrorism officers were assembling in London and liaising with the Home Office.

Unconfirmed reports from two unnamed US officials suggested the attack was carried out by a suicide bomber.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he was “horrified” by the attack, adding: “Today the whole country will grieve for the people who have lost their lives.”

Greater Manchester metro mayor Andy Burnham said: “My heart goes out to families who have lost loved ones, my admiration to our brave emergency services. A terrible night for our great city.”

British Transport Police said the explosion was in the arena’s foyer, which connects with Victoria train and tram station, a major hub on the northern edge of the city centre.

Shortly after the blast the station was closed and all trains cancelled.

Greater Manchester Police carried out a precautionary controlled explosion in the Cathedral Garden area of the city at about 01:32. The force later confirmed it was not a suspicious item.

The explosion occurred shortly after Ariana Grande left the stage at the arena – the city’s largest indoor venue with a concert capacity of around 21,000.

Grande – a 23-year-old American TV teen actress-turned-pop star – has a strong following among teenage girls and children.

The pop star tweeted: “broken. from the bottom of my heart, i am so so sorry. i don’t have words.”

In the aftermath of the explosion witnesses spoke about the fear and confusion that gripped those caught up in the events.

Those inside the arena described clothing and mobile phones strewn across the floor as people scrambled for the exits.

Andy Holey, who had gone to the arena to pick up his wife and daughter who had been at the concert, said: “An explosion went off and it threw me about 30ft from one set of doors to the other set of doors.

“When I got up I saw bodies lying on the ground. My first thought was to go into the arena to try to find my family.

“I managed to find them eventually and they’re OK.

“It was definitely an explosion and it was some force. It happened near the box office at the entrance to the arena.”

Emma Johnson said she and her husband were at the arena to pick up her children, aged 15 and 17.

“It was definitely a bomb. It was definitely in the foyer,” she told BBC Radio Manchester.

“We were stood at the top of the stairs and the glass exploded – it was near to where they were selling the merchandise.

“The whole building shook. There was a blast and then a flash of fire afterwards. There were bodies everywhere.”

BBC reporter Tom Mullen, who was at scene shortly after the blast, witnessed “sheer panic” among many young people, some with parents or guardians, in the city centre.

In the streets around the arena he saw concertgoers streaming away from the venue in confusion, many of them in tears.

Source BBC

British police confirm deaths after incident at Manchester Arena

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There are fatalities following an incident at Manchester Arena in England on Monday, according to local police.

In a Facebook post, Greater Manchester Police released the following statement: “Emergency services are currently responding to reports of an explosion at Manchester Arena. There are a number of confirmed fatalities and others injured. Please AVOID the area as first responders work tirelessly at the scene. Details of a casualty bureau will follow as soon as available.”
The warning to stay away from Manchester Arena came after reports of two loud explosions during an Ariana Grande concert Monday night.
Greater Manchester Police tweeted that emergency services were “responding to serious incident at Manchester Arena. Avoid the area. More details will follow as soon as available.”
British Transport Police told CNN it was in the process of closing some transport in the area.
Video from near the scene showed a caravan of ambulances heading to the arena.
Source: CNN

Trump visits Israel amid tight security

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Mr Trump says it should be up to Israel and the Palestinians to decide on the shape of a peace deal

US President Donald Trump is visiting Israel and the Palestinian territories, as he continues his Middle East trip.

He flies in from Saudi Arabia, a key US ally, where he gave a speech to Arab and Muslim leaders at a summit.

Mr Trump will hold talks with both Israeli and Palestinian leaders during the course of his one-day stop.

The president has called an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement “the ultimate deal”, but has been vague about what form it should take.

He has said he prefers to leave it to both sides to decide between them in direct talks.

At a summit in Riyadh on Sunday, Mr Trump called on Arab and Muslim leaders to take the lead in combating Islamist militants, urging them to “drive them out of this earth”.

He singled out Iran, saying it had “fuelled the fires of sectarian conflict and terror” in the region for decades.

Mr Trump also stated again that he believed peace between Israelis and Palestinians was possible.

The US president has been widely seen as considerably more supportive of Israel than his predecessor, Barack Obama. He has taken a softer position on the contentious issue of Israeli settlements, suggesting that their expansion rather than their existence might hamper the search for peace.

More than 600,000 Jews live in about 140 settlements built since Israel’s 1967 occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, land Palestinians claim for a future state. The settlements are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.

The president has also sent mixed signals on the issue of Jerusalem, pledging to move the US embassy there from Tel Aviv, angering Palestinians and delighting Israelis.

However he has since stalled, with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recently telling NBC News Mr Trump was weighing it up.

Remarks row

Israel regards the whole of Jerusalem as its capital, while the Palestinians claim the east as their capital. The international community does not recognise Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem and maintain their embassies in Tel Aviv.

There has been some consternation in Israel in the run-up to Mr Trump’s trip over remarks made by administration officials.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refuted Mr Tillerson’s suggestion that moving the embassy might harm the peace process, while a US Consulate official caused outrage by saying the Western Wall, one of Judaism’s holiest sites, was “not in your [Israel’s] territory but part of the West Bank”.

The White House later said the official’s comments “do not represent the position of the United States”.

Mr Trump’s trip also comes days after it was reported that the president had leaked to Russia’s foreign minister classified intelligence information said to have come from an Israeli source. The incident has raised questions about the confidentiality of secret intelligence passed to the US by its closest Middle Eastern ally.

A huge security operation is under way for Mr Trump’s visit, during which he will hold separate meetings with Mr Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Monday and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem the following day.

Source: BBC

Chibok girls reunited with families

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A group of the “Chibok girls” freed from Nigeria’s Boko Haram militants have been reunited with their families.

The 82 girls, who were part of a huge group kidnapped from their school in 2014, are in the care of security services in the capital, Abuja.

Their parents travelled by bus through the night to meet their daughters.

More than 100 of the 276 girls, taken from the town of Chibok, are still being held by the militant group. Their whereabouts are unknown.

The reunion in Abuja had a celebratory atmosphere, with music and dance.

The BBC’s Alistair Leithead says the girls were already dancing when their parents got off the bus and raced towards them, in an emotional reunion.

The 82 young women were only freed two weeks earlier in exchange for five Boko Haram militants.

The most recent group freed was supposed to have 83 girls – but one refused to leave, saying she was happy and had found a husband, a Nigerian government spokesman said.

The freed girls remain in government care – under the eye of security services who are questioning them about their time spent as captives.

After the girls were abducted from their school in April 2014, a massive global awareness campaign began, using the Twitter hashtag #BringBackOurGirls.

The Chibok girls represent a fraction of the women captured by the militant group, estimates for which number in the thousands.

Source: BBC

Trump begins foreign tour in Riyadh

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Media captionPresident Trump says his first 100 days in office “has been very productive”

US President Donald Trump has arrived in Saudi Arabia on his first foreign trip since becoming president.

His eight-day trip will also take in Israel, the Palestinian territories, Brussels, the Vatican, and Sicily.

It comes as Mr Trump faces uproar at homefollowing his sacking of FBI director James Comey.

He has strongly criticised the decision to appoint a special counsel to oversee an inquiry into alleged Russian influence on the US election.

The trip takes in the capitals of the three major monotheistic religions – Islam, Judaism and Christianity.

Hours before Mr Trump’s arrival, Saudi air defence units said they had brought down a rocket south of the capital, Riyadh, that was fired from Yemen by Houthi rebels.

Saudi warplanes are reported to have carried out retaliatory strikes on targets close to the Yemeni capital, Sanaa.


‘Turning page on Obama’ – by Lyse Doucet, Chief International Correspondent, BBC News

“We want you to be a superpower” is how a senior Saudi prince recently described to me the kingdom’s message to the United States. From day one, Saudi rulers hailed the arrival of President Trump, and what they believe will be greater US engagement in this region.

There’s much talk of “turning the page” on what they saw as President Obama’s infuriating retreat in Syria, and his focus on a nuclear deal with Riyadh’s main rival, Iran.

Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister: Donald Trump’s visit is a ‘coup for peace and coexistence’

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir admitted to me it was “a diplomatic coup” to claim the first stop on the US president’s first foreign visit. Other historic first steps may be taken here too.

Another senior official in the region disclosed that Arab states are now discussing moves to start “normalising” relations with their old arch-enemy Israel.

This Riyadh summit will focus on new alliances to confront extremist groups. And the Saudis’ overriding goal is to convince the US and others to exert far greater pressure on what they see as the greatest threat, from Tehran.

Mr Trump will attend the Arab Islamic American Summit in Riyadh and speak about his “hopes of a peaceful vision of Islam”, in what aides say will be a speech the president hopes will resonate worldwide and express “a common vision of peace, progress and prosperity”.

Mr Trump caused controversy during his campaign by calling for Muslims to be temporarily banned from entering the US over security concerns. Legislation aimed at restricting travel from several Muslim-majority countries remains tied up in the US courts.

The summit agenda is expected to focus on combating Islamist militants and the growing regional influence of Iran.

Mr Trump has been a fierce critic of the Iran deal which eased sanctions in return for a curb on its nuclear activities.

One leader who will not be attending the summit will be Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir. President Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court on war crimes charges and the US was reported to be unhappy about his planned attendance.

Unlike his predecessor, Barack Obama, Mr Trump is not expected to highlight human rights during his trip.

And aside from the formal diplomacy, US country music star Toby Keith will perform a free concert in Riyadh on Saturday alongside Saudi singer Rabeh Sager.

Saudi Arabia, which enforces a strict interpretation of Islam including a total ban on alcohol, is perhaps an unusual venue for Keith – whose hits include I Love This Bar, Whiskey Girl, and Drunk Americans.

Saturday’s concert is open only to men aged over 21, who are required to dress in traditional Saudi tunics.


Israel and the West Bank – Monday-Tuesday 22-23 May

On Monday, Mr Trump will fly to Tel Aviv and travel on to Jerusalem where he will meet President Reuven Rivlin.

Israelis walk past a poster welcoming and supporting US President Donald Trump in Jerusalem, on May 19, 2017

Some posters in Jerusalem welcome Mr Trump’s visit AFP

He is due to visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre as well as the Western Wall before holding talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Observers will be watching to see if Mr Trump refers to his announcement during the election campaign, that he would break with decades of US policy and move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The status of Jerusalem is one of the most sensitive and complex issues within the Middle East conflict and no country in the world currently has its embassy there.

On Tuesday, Mr Trump will travel to Bethlehem in the West Bank for talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Peace talks with Israel will top the agenda and Mr Trump is expected to express his support for Palestinian “self-determination”.


Rome and Brussels – Wednesday 24 May

President Trump will arrive early in Rome and have an audience with Pope Francis.

The two men have appeared at odds on many subjects including climate change and the plight of refugees, but the Pope has said he will give the president an open-minded hearing.

Later, Mr Trump flies to Brussels where he will be greeted by King Philippe of Belgium and Prime Minister Charles Michel.


Brussels – Thursday 25 May

After talks with EU leaders and France’s new President Emmanuel Macron, Mr Trump will attend a meeting of Nato leaders.

This will be closely watched after Mr Trump’s conflicting pronouncements on the alliance. During his campaign, he called Nato “obsolete”, although in April he reversed his stance.

The US leader is expected to repeat his demand that other Nato members increase their contributions.

The last stop on Mr Trump’s tour will be the picturesque Sicilian town of Taormina where he will attend a G7 summit.

Correspondents say the other G7 leaders are eager to hear Mr Trump’s thoughts on trade and other issues at first hand.

Mr Trump’s national security adviser has said that the president will “press America’s economic agenda and call for greater security co-operation”.

Source: BBC

Sweden drops rape investigation against Julian Assange

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The focus will now be on whether Mr Assange can leave the Ecuadorean embassy in London

Sweden has decided to drop the rape investigation into Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.

Top prosecutor Marianne Ny said his arrest warrant was being revoked as it was impossible to serve him notice.

Mr Assange, 45, has lived in the Ecuadorean embassy in London since 2012. He fears extradition to Sweden would lead to extradition to the US where he is wanted over leaks.

Police in London said they would still be obliged to arrest him if he left.

The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) said Mr Assange still faced the lesser charge of failing to surrender to a court, an offence punishable by up to a year in prison or a fine.

But the UK has not commented on whether it has received an extradition request from the US, where Mr Assange could face trial over the leaking of hundreds of thousands of secret US military and diplomatic documents.

Mr Assange’s Swedish lawyer, Per Samuelson, said the prosecutor’s decision on Friday represented “a total victory” for his client.

But the Wikileaks founder responded angrily in a tweet: “Detained for 7 years without charge… while my children grew up and my name was slandered. I do not forgive or forget.”

The plaintiff in the rape case was “shocked” by the decision, her lawyer said, and maintained her accusations against Mr Assange, Agence France-Presse reported.

Why has the case been dropped?

At a press briefing on Friday, Ms Ny said that by remaining in the embassy in London Mr Assange had evaded the exercise of the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) that would have seen him extradited to Sweden.

She said that under Swedish law a criminal investigation needed to be conducted “as quickly as possible”.

Sweden did not expect Ecuador’s co-operation in formally notifying Mr Assange of the allegations against him, a necessary step in proceeding with the case, she added.

But she said: “If he were to return to Sweden before the statute of limitation on this case expires in August 2020, the preliminary investigation could be resumed.”

She said it was “regrettable we have not been able to carry out the investigation”, and added: “We are not making any pronouncement about guilt.”

What does Ecuador say?

A source at the Ecuadorean foreign ministry told the Press Association that Ecuador had “fully co-operated with the Swedish justice system”.

The source criticised the Swedish prosecutor for “unnecessary delays” in the case but welcomed the latest decision.

The source added: “Ecuador will now be intensifying its diplomatic efforts with the UK so that Julian Assange can gain safe passage in order to enjoy his asylum in Ecuador.”

How did Mr Assange end up where he is?

The rape allegation followed a Wikileaks conference in Stockholm in 2010. Mr Assange always denied the allegations against him, saying sex was consensual.

He also said the case was politically motivated, as it followed massive Wikileaks dumps of secret US military reports that year.

Later that year he was arrested in London after Sweden issued an international arrest warrant against him.

Then, in June 2012, after exhausting legal avenues to prevent his extradition, Mr Assange sought refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy, where he remains to this day.

What will happen to Mr Assange now?

After the news was announced on Friday, Wikileaks tweeted that the “focus now moves to the UK”, but Mr Assange’s fate still seems unclear.

The MPS issued a statement saying that its actions had been based on a response to a “European Arrest Warrant for an extremely serious offence”.

It went on: “Now that the situation has changed and the Swedish authorities have discontinued their investigation into that matter, Mr Assange remains wanted for a much less serious offence. The MPS will provide a level of resourcing which is proportionate to that offence.”

The MPS said it would “not comment further on the operational plan”.

Last month, Mr Samuelson filed a new motion calling for his client’s arrest warrant to be lifted.

He cited a comment by new US Attorney General Jeff Sessions that the arrest of Mr Assange would be “a priority”.

Mr Samuelson told Agence France-Presse: “This implies that we can now demonstrate that the US has a will to take action… this is why we ask for the arrest warrant to be cancelled.”

Source: BBC

Times Square crash: Driver ‘heard voices’

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Richard Rojas was arrested after ramming his car into pedestrians, one of whom died

A man who drove a car along three blocks of pavement in New York’s Times Square, killing a teenager and injuring 22 people, said he had “heard voices”, according to law enforcement sources.

Richard Rojas, 26, a US navy veteran who was arrested twice previously for drunk driving, is now in custody.

He also said he expected to die, the sources told AP news agency.

According to Reuters, he said after being arrested: “You were supposed to shoot me! I wanted to kill them.”

Mr Rojas has been charged with second-degree murder, aggravated vehicular homicide and multiple counts of attempted murder. He is expected to appear in court later on Friday.

The streets in Times Square, a bustling tourist district, were thronged with visitors when the car ploughed through the crowds.

The burgundy Honda sedan jumped the kerb at 45th Street and Broadway at 11:55 local time (15:55 GMT) and drove at high speed for three blocks before crashing into a pole.It came to a crumpled standstill with smoke and flames escaping the bonnet.

Afterwards, victims lay on the ground, many of them separated from their scattered shoes and belongings, as medical staff, police officers and passersby tried to assist them.

One pregnant woman at the scene said: “A man pulled me out of the way of the car. I think he saved my life.”

Media reports say a ticket agent and a worker at Planet Hollywood restaurant were among the people who helped police subdue and detain Mr Rojas.

The Planet Hollywood worker, Ken Bradix, told Associated Press: “He began screaming, no particular words but just utter screaming. He was swinging his arms at the same time. There was something wrong with him.”

The incident evoked recent terrorist attacks by vehicle in London, Nice and Berlin but New York mayor Bill de Blasio said there was “no indication” it was an act of terrorism.


What do we know of Rojas?

According to media reports, he has a history of offending:

– He was arrested for threatening a man with a knife earlier this month

– He was arrested for drunk driving in 2015

– He spent two months in a military prison in South Carolina, in 2013 – it is not clear why

– In 2012, he attacked a taxi driver at a naval base in Florida, shouted “my life is over” and threatened to kill police – after which he was charged with misdemeanour battery and resisting an officer without violence

– He was arrested for drunk driving in 2008


Police believe he was high on synthetic marijuana, known as K2, ABC News reports, citing law enforcement sources. Initial tests reportedly came back negative for alcohol but positive for drugs.

One neighbour told Reuters Mr Rojas had come back from serving in the navy with a drinking problem.

Harrison Ramos, who lives in Mr Rojas’s building in the Bronx, said: ” He went through a real tough time. Don’t make him out to be a terrorist or something. He served his country and when he came back, nobody helped him.

“That’s my friend. I care about him, and it hurts.”

One investigator told the New York Times Mr Rojas had so far offered no coherent explanation, and was “just rambling and saying crazy stuff”.

Source BBC