By Michael Holden LONDON (Reuters) - A British man who was once held at Guantanamo Bay will be freed from prison, police said on Wednesday, after prosecutors dropped accusations that he had attended a terrorism training camp in Syria a week before he was due to go on trial. Moazzam Begg, 46, who became a high-profile human rights campaigner after being released without charge from the U.S. military prison in Cuba in 2005, had been held for seven months in custody on charges of facilitating terrorism and possession of a document likely to be of use to a terrorist. His case is likely to pose awkward questions for the police and the government which has vowed tough action against those who travel to Syria, including stripping Britons of their passports. CAGE, a group set up by Begg which campaigns for the rights of people detained during counter-terrorism operations, had argued his arrest in March was politically motivated. Begg has been a vocal critic of British foreign policy and said he had been in Syria as part of research into cases of illegal rendition and torture involving Britain's security services. "This has been a testing time for Moazzam, his family and the Muslim community," said Asim Qureshi, Research Director of CAGE. "The criminalisation of virtually any Muslim that has been to Syria has only increased in intensity, while CAGE has been attacked from every angle by a host of government agencies." Police said the decision to drop the charges came because new material had come to light which meant police and prosecution lawyers had concluded there was no realistic chance of securing a conviction. "I understand this is going to raise many questions," Marcus Beale, Assistant Chief Constable of West Midlands Police, said in a statement. "From the beginning this case has challenged the relationship between West Midlands Police and some of the communities we serve. I would like to reassure them and Mr Begg that at every stage of this investigation my officers acted in the best interests of the public and of justice." "ENEMY OF THE UK" Begg's release came as Prime Minister David Cameron vowed tough powers to target Britons suspected of wanting to go to Syria and Iraq to fight. "If you try and travel to Syria or Iraq, we will use everything at our disposal to stop you - taking away your passport, prosecuting, convicting, imprisoning and even if you're there already we may even prevent you from coming back," he said at his Conservative party's annual conference. "You have declared your allegiance, you are an enemy of the UK and you should expect to be treated as such," he added. On Tuesday, Home Secretary Theresa May said she had already removed the passports of 25 people in relation to Syria while 103 had been arrested over offences related to terrorism there. Britain has raised its international terrorism threat level to the second highest level as the authorities fear those who travel to the region could return radicalised and pose a risk at home. (editing by Stephen Addison)
The European Union and the United States agreed on Friday to suspend tariffs imposed on billions of dollars of imports in a 16-year-old dispute over aircraft subsidies, and said any long-term solution would need to address Chinese competition. The two sides said in a joint statement that the four-month suspension will cover all U.S. tariffs on $7.5 billion of EU imports and all EU duties on $4 billion of U.S. products, which resulted from long-running World Trade Organization cases over subsidies for planemakers Airbus and Boeing. The suspension followed a telephone call between U.S. President Joe Biden and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, officials said.
- Associated Press
Pope Francis and Iraq's top Shiite cleric delivered a powerful message of peaceful coexistence Saturday, urging Muslims in the war-weary Arab nation to embrace Iraq’s long-beleaguered Christian minority during an historic meeting in the holy city of Najaf. Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani said religious authorities have a role in protecting Iraq’s Christians, and that Christians should live in peace and enjoy the same rights as other Iraqis. The Vatican said Francis thanked al-Sistani for having “raised his voice in defense of the weakest and most persecuted” during some of the most violent times in Iraq’s recent history.
- The Telegraph
Boris Johnson has challenged the EU's decision to approve the blockade of 250,000 AstraZeneca vaccines destined for Australia, warning that the restrictions "endanger" global efforts to combat the Covid-19 pandemic. On Friday, Downing Street questioned the European Commission over its acceptance of the Italian government's decision to use EU-wide export controls to prevent the shipment from going ahead. Asked about the controversy, Mr Johnson's spokesman pointed out that Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission president, had previously assured the Prime Minister that the controls would not be used in this way. Speaking at the Number 10 daily lobby briefing, the spokesman said: "We're not privy to the specific agreements between other countries and vaccine manufacturers. "However, the PM spoke to President von der Leyen earlier this year, and she confirmed that the focus of their mechanism was on transparency and not intended to restrict exports by companies where they are fulfilling contractual responsibilities. "We would expect the EU to continue to stand by its commitments. The global recovery from Covid relies on international collaboration. We are all dependent on global supply chains, and putting in place restrictions endangers global efforts to fight the virus."
How strong is Wanda? Will we see some of these characters again? Insider rounds up every lingering question you may have after the Marvel finale.
- Reuters Videos
Self-driving cars equipped to navigate congested highways...Honda says it will sell a limited batch of its flagship Legend sedans equipped with cutting-edge autonomous technology.That makes it the world's first automaker to sell vehicles equipped with certified 'level 3' autonomy.Once activated, that allows drivers to watch movies or use screens while the car takes charge. And the plan to sell 100 of the vehicles is a significant step towards a bigger goal.Honda wants to be the first company to mass produce a car with level 3 ability. The limited edition Legend will be sold in Japan from Friday March 5th, costing about $102,000. Honda said the Legend's "Traffic Jam Pilot" system can control acceleration, braking and steering under certain conditions. Adding that it can also alert the driver to respond when handing over the control, such as by vibrating the driver's seatbelt. If the driver continues to be unresponsive, the system will assist with an emergency stop by decelerating and stopping the vehicle.While alerting surrounding cars with hazard lights and the horn.The autonomous race is on among global automakers and tech companies.Both Alphabet's Waymo and Tesla have been investing heavily in self-driving tech.Audi unveiled a level-3 car of its own in 2017, but regulatory hurdles prevented it being widely adopted.
- The Independent
Most Americans disapprove of Biden immigration executive order, as nearly half want to keep border wall
About 55 per cent of Americans oppose recent executive order related to deporting immigrants
American attitudes toward China have soured significantly in the past three years, with 70% of those surveyed for a report published on Thursday saying Washington should stand up to Beijing over its human rights record even if it damages economic ties. Nearly 9 in 10 respondents to a Pew Research Center survey of more than 2,500 Americans conducted in February said they saw China, the world's second largest economy, as a competitor or enemy rather than a partner, the U.S.-based center said. "Americans want more focus on human rights – even at the expense of economic ties – in bilateral relations with China," the report said.
- The Independent
Biden news: White House defends ‘Neanderthal’ slur of GOP states, as Trump shifts blame for Senate loss
Live updates from the White House
- The Independent
QAnon predicted Trump’s re-inauguration on 4 March. Congress braced for an assault. Neither happened
Two months after Capitol attack, embittered conspiracy cult holds out for last-ditch effort to revive former president – but law enforcement warns that the insurrection was not an isolated event
- The Independent
Obama administration greatly expanded the use of drone strikes before later imposing checks
- Business Insider
Luxury carmaker Aston Martin unveiled its first new Formula 1 car in more than 60 years with the help of Tom Brady and Daniel Craig. Take a look at the AMR21.
Aston Martin's AMR21 will be driven by Germany's Sebastian Vettel and Canada's Lance Stroll in the Bahrain Grand Prix.
- The Independent
‘I’m always up for a good fight,’ says Trump ally
- Associated Press
Jake Virtanen scored twice, leading the Vancouver Canucks to a 3-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night in the opener of a two-game set. Bo Horvat also scored for Vancouver, providing a bit of a cushion with a goal midway through the third period. Pierre Engvall scored for the Maple Leafs off an assist from Ilya Mikheyev.
Nicolas Cage, 57, tied the knot with Riko Shibata, 26, in Las Vegas on February 16.
Miley Cyrus said playing her alter ego Hannah Montana on her hit Disney show led to an 'identity crisis'
Miley Cyrus appeared on the "Rock This with Allison Hagendorf" podcast on Friday and spoke about her hit TV show where she starred as Hannah Montana.
- Business Insider
An anonymous source who is familiar with an FBI cellphone data report says there was communication between the two.
- Business Insider
Rudy Giuliani's legal woes mount as a federal criminal investigation into his Ukraine dealings resumes, report says
Giuliani, Trump's longtime personal attorney, is also facing lawsuits linked to his baseless claims of voter fraud during the presidential election.
The day after he single-handedly delayed the U.S. Senate's debate on President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill for 11 hours, Republican Senator Ron Johnson said on Friday that he could retire from office when his term expires. The 65-year-old Republican, who was first elected to the Senate during the Tea Party surge in 2010, had pledged to spend only two terms in the Senate.
Inaugural poet Amanda Gorman said a security guard followed her and told her she 'looked suspicious' when entering her own building
"This is the reality of black girls: One day you're called an icon, the next day, a threat," Gorman said in a tweet about the incident.
- The Daily Beast
Camden County JailA prominent Lake of the Ozarks real estate agent and self-described “cheer mom” has been arrested for allegedly trying to put a hit out on her former mother-in-law. Prosecutors in Camden County say Leigh Ann Bauman, 43, offered to pay $1,500 to people in St. Louis to make her former mother-in-law’s death “look like an accident.” She was reportedly concerned about the woman causing problems with her relationship with her kids.Bauman was recorded discussing the scheme, according to a press release from the Camden County prosecutor’s office. She was given multiple opportunities to change her mind when asked by a witness-turned-informant if she was sure she wanted to carry out the killing, prosecutors said, but she moved ahead with it, at one point acknowledging that she was a Christian but noting she could always ask for forgiveness later.The realtor also is said to have made no secret about her alleged plans. After sending a text message to her daughter that said, “Your grandmother will die,” Bauman allegedly plowed ahead with the plan and pushed for her former mother-in-law to be killed in the small town of Hermann.Her alleged murder-for-hire plot fell apart when an attorney for a person who was solicited to hire people to carry out the killing contacted the Missouri Highway Patrol. She was arrested on Thursday and charged with conspiracy to commit murder and is currently being held without bond in the Camden County Jail.“We’re very appreciative of what the witness did in this case,” Camden County Prosecutor Caleb Cunningham said Friday. “We encourage anyone to contact law enforcement if there’s a crime or suspected crime.” “A local realtor had several political connections and the witness was aware of these political connections,” Cunningham said. “Out of an abundance of caution, DDCC was used to avoid any hint of impropriety,” he said, referring to the Missouri Highway Patrol Division of Drug and Crime Control.Bauman, who describes herself as a realtor, an artist, an entrepreneur, and a “cheer mom” on her Facebook page, frequently posted online about her “track record of success.” While she was most well-known as a realtor, with nearly 20 years in the industry, she also apparently set a world record in a boating race last year. Her LinkedIn account also mentions work in pharmaceutical sales and an acting and modeling career, with appearances on Days of Our Lives and in Nike commercials.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.