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Nobel laureate sentenced to jail in Bangladesh

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A court in Bangladesh has sentenced the Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus to six months in jail for violating the country’s labour laws.

Prof Yunus’ supporters say the case is politically motivated.

The acclaimed economist and three colleagues from Grameen Telecom – one of the firms he founded – were found guilty of failing to create a welfare fund for their workers.

All four deny any wrongdoing and have been granted bail pending appeals.

“As my lawyers have convincingly argued in court, this verdict against me is contrary to all legal precedent and logic,” Prof Yunus said in a statement released after the verdict.

“I call for the Bangladeshi people to speak in one voice against injustice and in favour of democracy and human rights for each and every one of our citizens.”

The 83-year-old Yunus, known internationally as the “banker to the poor”, is credited with establishing a pioneering system of micro-finance loans helping to lift millions out of poverty.

Prof Yunus and his Grameen Bank were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their pioneering work in 2006.

Discussing the verdict, one of his lawyers, Abdullah Al Mamun, told the BBC: “It was an unprecedent judgement. No due legal process was followed in the case and it was rushed through.”

Mr Mamun added: “The whole idea is to damage his international reputation. We are appealing against this verdict.”

Prof Yunus’s lawyers say he is facing more than 100 other charges over labour law violations and alleged graft.

Prime Minister Hasina Sheikh once described Prof Yunus as a “bloodsucker” of the poor and accused Grameen Bank of charging exorbitant interest rates.

Irene Khan – the former head of rights organisation Amnesty International who works as a UN special rapporteur – was present at Monday’s verdict. She told the AFP news agency the conviction was “a travesty of justice”.

In August, more than 170 global figures called on Ms Hasina to stop the “persecution” of Prof Yunus.

The letter, whose signatories included former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Virgin Group founder Richard Branson and U2 lead singer Bono, asked that the “continuous judicial harassment” of Prof Yunus be stopped.

Ms Hasina said she welcomed international experts to assess the ongoing legal proceedings against Prof Yunus.

It is not clear what led to the friction between Ms Hasina and Prof Yunus, but supporters of the economist said the government was attempting to discredit him because he once considered setting up a political party to rival the governing Awami League.

(BBC News)

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China’s lunar probe lands back on Earth

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China’s lunar probe landed back on Earth, after a nearly two-month long mission.

The Chang’e-6 landed in the Inner Mongolia desert on Tuesday, carrying the first ever samples from the Moon’s unexplored far side.

China is the only country to have landed on the far side of the Moon, having done so before in 2019.

Scientists are eagerly awaiting as the samples could answer key questions about how planets are formed.

(BBC News)

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Wikileaks founder leaves UK after being freed in US plea deal

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Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has left the UK after agreeing a US plea deal that will see him plead guilty to criminal charges and go free.
Assange was charged with conspiracy to obtain and disclose national defence information.

He spent the last five years in a British prison, from where he was fighting extradition to the US.

Assange will spend no time in US custody and will receive credit for the time spent incarcerated in the UK.

The plea deal is expected to be finalised in a court in the Northern Mariana Islands on Wednesday.

He is expected to return to Australia according to the US justice department.

(BBC News)

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Stonehenge orange powder paint removed

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The orange powder paint sprayed onto Britain’s most famous prehistoric structure, Stonehenge, by environmental protesters on Wednesday has been removed, leaving “no visible damage,” according to the organization that manages the site.“Thankfully, there appears to be no visible damage but that’s in no way saying there hasn’t been harm, from the very act of having to clean the stones to the distress caused to those for whom Stonehenge holds a spiritual significance,” said English Heritage chief executive Nick Merriman in a statement to CNN Thursday.

He confirmed that the site is open to the public and that summer solstice celebrations, which are expected to attract huge crowds, will go ahead as normal.

A video posted on X by Just Stop Oil on Wednesday showed two of the group’s activists spraying the landmark using fire extinguishers.

“The Just Stop Oil protestors demanded the incoming government sign up to a legally binding treaty to phase out fossil fuels by 2030,” the group posted on X.

The action took place around 12 p.m. local time (7 a.m. ET) at the ancient site near Salisbury in the southwest of England, Wiltshire Police said in a statement.

The two activists “were arrested on suspicion of criminal damage, damaging an ancient monument and deterring a person from engaging in a lawful activity,” police said in a statement Thursday.

The pair have been released on bail pending further enquiries, police said.

The official Stonehenge X account described the incident as “extremely upsetting.”

“Orange powdered paint has been thrown at a number of the stones at Stonehenge. Obviously, this is extremely upsetting and our curators are investigating the extent of the damage,” the post said.

The protesters were a 21-year-old student from Oxford and a 73-year-old man from Birmingham, Just Stop Oil said in a press release.

In anticipation of people meeting at Stonehenge on Thursday to mark the Northern Hemisphere’s longest day of sunlight, English Heritage published “conditions of entry.”

“Stonehenge is a World Heritage Site, a Scheduled Ancient Monument and is seen by many as a sacred place. We ask that all those attending respect it and those celebrating around it,” the website said.

Responding to the incident on X, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak wrote: “Just Stop Oil are a disgrace.”

On Thursday, two more activists from the group caused a scene at London’s Stansted Airport after they sprayed orange paint on two private jets on the runway where Taylor Swift’s private jet is suspected to have landed.

The pop star is in London on her Eras world tour and is set to play three shows in London this weekend.

Just Stop Oil posted videos on their social media channels showing two activists breaking into the airfield, cutting into the fence and spraying orange paint on the aircraft.

The same group made headlines last month when two protesters smashed the glass protecting the Magna Carta, a famous British manuscript from the 13th century, at the British Museum in London.

Climate activists have been staging increasingly high-profile protests, many of which have involved attacking high-value artworks including the Mona Lisa and Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers.”

(CNN)

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