Russia bends to protesters, releases jailed leader

July 19, 2013

Russia frees jailed opposition leader on bail, Panama arrests former CIA official, and Kerry heads to the West Bank. Today is Friday, July 19, 2013, and @clarerrrr is wishing @dwbronner a happy birthday and a splendid day off. Here’s the World Wrap:

Unexpected freedom.

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny (R) reacts as he talks to the media, with his wife Yulia (L) standing nearby, outside a court building in Kirov, July 19, 2013. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin. Click for more photos of Navalny’s release.

The Kremlin blinks. In a rare move, the rattled Russian government released jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny, the day after he was sentenced to five years.

The anti-corruption blogger will be unable to leave Moscow but hailed the decision, a day after he was convicted of theft, seen as a victory for people power. Experts said it was unprecedented for the prosecution to seek bail on such terms after sentencing. “I am very grateful to all the people who supported us, all the people who went to (protest in Moscow’s) Manezh Square and other squares,” the 37-year-old said, rushing across the court to hug his wife after he was let out of a glass courtroom cage.

Thousands of protesters took to the streets yesterday to protest what was seen as a politically-motivated effort to muzzle Navalny. The U.S., Germany, and EU expressed disappointment over the ruling, and Amnesty International called for his immediate release. Known as a blogger and for his campaigns against corruption, Navalny is a complex character who has become a thorn in the political establishment’s side. Navalny has ten days to file an appeal and another 30 for the court to decide whether to hear it.

Egyptian cleric Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, shows letters of well wishes from his supporters from around the world during a Reuters interview in his house in Alexandria, Egypt, May 13, 2008. REUTERS/Stringer

Rendition flight comes back to bite. Former CIA official Robert Seldon Lady, who was convicted of kidnapping a Muslim cleric in Italy in 2003, has been arrested in Panama and handed over to Interpol.

Osama Nasr was snatched from a Milan street in 2003 and flown to Egypt for interrogation, where he says he was tortured for seven months. The imam, also known as Abu Omar, was a resident of Italy at the time of the abduction. Prosecutors alleged the CIA flew the imam from northern Italy via Germany to Egypt, where he says he was tortured with electric shocks, beatings, rape threats and genital abuse.

Seldon Lady was tried and convicted in absentia by an Italian court.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks on the phone at Mafraq Air Base before boarding a helicopter to Amman, after visiting Zaatari refugee camp, July 18, 2013. REUTERS/Mandel Ngan/Pool

Last-ditch stab at peace. John Kerry is headed to the West Bank to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in an effort to renew peace talks.

State Department official in Amman said Kerry would go to Ramallah in the afternoon to see Abbas, but did not disclose his proposals to revive peace talks that broke down in 2010. The Palestinian leadership on Thursday did not accept Kerry’s latest plan, but signalled that it was leaving the door open for him to continue his peace push.

The last round of negotiations three years ago was derailed over Israeli settlements, and Palestinians have demanded a halt to construction as part of the basis for talks this time. The details of Kerry’s plan remain under wraps.

Nota Bene: Pope Francis makes his debut trip to a less Catholic, more restive Brazil next week.


Set to spring farther – Reuters columnist David Rohde writes that the Arab Spring is just getting started. (Reuters)

The real face of terror – New photos of the Boston bomber emerge in response to a controversial Rolling Stone cover. (Boston Magazine)

Art world fears the worst – Works by Picasso, Mattisse, and Monet may have been burned in Romania. (New York Times)

Where they are now – Iraqis who helped cover the war remake their lives in America. (Washington Post)

Semblance of summer – A Norwegian town will install giant mirrors to brighten a square during winter. (Time)

From the File:

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