American sentenced in Moscow
International | Paul Whelan insists the Russians set him up
by Mindy Belz
Posted 6/15/20, 12:18 pm
RUSSIA: A Moscow court found Paul Whelan, a dual U.S.-Canadian citizen and former U.S. Marine, guilty of espionage and sentenced him to 16 years in prison in a case the U.S. ambassador to Russia called a “mockery of justice.” Russia’s Federal Security Service detained Whelan in 2018 during a visit to attend a friend’s wedding. Russian authorities said they found classified files on a flash drive in his possession. Whelan, who was in charge of security for a Michigan-based auto parts supplier after receiving a bad-conduct discharge from the Marines in 2008, has insisted the Russians set him up.
INDIA: The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom was denied visas to travel to India, saying the majority Hindu country will not permit foreign interference. USCIRF reports and statements have highlighted the deterioration of religious freedom under the rule of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The recent executive order making religious freedom a “priority” in U.S. foreign policy makes operational the Trump administration’s national security strategy. “For decades religious freedom has been treated as the unwanted stepchild in the human-rights side of U.S. foreign policy,” wrote Nina Shea, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute.
BURUNDI: Burundi will swear in President-elect Evariste Ndayishimiye two months ahead of schedule—on Thursday—after the sudden death of President Pierre Nkurunziza, who was to oversee the country’s first democratic transfer of power.
UGANDA: Critical supplies and food rations are trapped as East African truck drivers are stuck in major traffic jams due to coronavirus testing at borders. UN officials said the jams are tying up supplies destined for refugee camps, where food rations have already been cut by 30 percent.
Authorities have arrested four men in conjunction with the killing of perhaps the world’s most famous mountain gorilla, the 25-year-old Rafiki, part of the endangered silverback species.
MOZAMBIQUE: Grace Missions hospital in Nampula is the first to treat the country’s COVID-19 patients, in a city with the first reported community spread of the viral disease. COVID-19 cases have doubled in 11 days, the eighth-most rapid increase in the world, despite extensive lockdown measures. Health officials are racing with hospital workers to install new oxygen lines and improve washing facilities at the mission hospital, where none of the COVID-19 patients are very sick, according to one worker, “and until now none have needed supplemental oxygen, let alone ventilators, which do not exist here.”
CHINA: A bipartisan group of lawmakers questioned Zoom CEO Eric Yuan in a letter after the videoconferencing company deactivated the accounts of U.S. based democracy activists at the request of the Chinese government. “We urge you to be true to your company’s stated values, which include embracing ‘different ideas and visionaries’” and “not allow foreign governments, such as the [People’s Republic of China] Government, to dictate the terms of usage.”
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Mindy wrote WORLD Magazine's first cover story in 1986 and went on to serve as international editor, editor, and now senior editor. She has covered wars in Syria, Afganistan, Africa, and the Balkans, and she recounts some of her experiences in They Say We Are Infidels: On the Run from ISIS with Persecuted Christians in the Middle East. Mindy resides with her husband, Nat, in Asheville, N.C. Follow her on Twitter @mcbelz.