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Syrian-American accused of spying on dissidents in U.S.

WASHINGTON

U.S. accuses man of spying for Syria

The Justice Department on Wednesday accused a Syrian-American man of secretly working for the Syrian intelligence service. It said he collected information about people in the United States who were protesting the Syrian government's crackdown on the country's prodemocracy movement, as part of a scheme to "silence, intimidate and potentially harm the protesters." Mohamad Anas Haitham Soueid, 47, a resident of Leesburg, Va., was arrested Tuesday and charged with six offenses, including serving as a foreign agent without registering and making false statements. Authorities described him as a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Syria. The Syrian Embassy in Washington said the charges were part of a "campaign of distortion and fabrications against the Embassy of Syria in the U.S."

Huge rally in Syria: Tens of thousands of Syrians thronged a main square of the Syrian capital, Damascus, on Wednesday in a show of support for embattled President Bashar Assad. Opponents said such rallies are staged by the regime.

Libya

Rebels accused of abuse, torture

Libyan revolutionary forces are holding more than 2,500 detainees in makeshift prisons where they are subjected to beatings and languish without charges, the human rights group Amnesty International said Wednesday. Despite pledges of speedy prosecutions, the National Transitional Council, Libya's provisional authority since the ouster of Moammar Gadhafi, has yet to try any detainees, Amnesty said. "At least two guards in two different detention facilities admitted to Amnesty International that they beat detainees in order to extract 'confessions' more quickly," it said. Amnesty's report, based on visits to 11 revolutionary jails, is the most systematic examination to date of the former rebels' murky detention operation.

Victory within a week? Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, Libya's de facto leader said Wednesday he expected to declare total victory over forces loyal to Gadhafi in less than a week. The International Committee of the Red Cross, meanwhile, warned that thousands of civilians were still trapped in Sirte, the fugitive leader's besieged home city.

Egypt

Protesters blamed for violence

In an attempt to stem criticism of their grip on power, generals in Egypt's ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces said Wednesday that soldiers were attacked by mobs and did not intentionally kill Christian Coptic protesters this week. The generals' comments at a news conference marked the first public statements by the military on Sunday's incidents, when clashes between thousands of Christian demonstrators, thugs and military police left 22 Coptic protesters and three police officers dead and more than 300 people injured. Copts were protesting the burning of a church by Muslim radicals in southern Egypt.

Israel apologizes: Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak formally apologized to Egypt for the killing of six Egyptian police officers during a cross-border shootout with militants suspected of carrying out deadly attacks in Israel. Barak's apology came after a joint Israeli-Egyptian investigation. Barak said in a statement that the militants who killed eight Israelis prior to the shootout had "intended to murder Israeli civilians and ruin the peaceful relations between Israel and Egypt."

Times wires

Syrian-American accused of spying on dissidents in U.S. 10/12/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 12, 2011 11:13pm]
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