World Wrap

Mubarak could be freed by end of the week

By Danielle Wiener-Bronner
August 19, 2013

Egyptian court drops bombshell on country in turmoil, Kim Jong-un tries Mr. Nice Guy routine, and Britain sends warships to Gibraltar amid fishing controversy. Today is Monday, August 19, and this is the World Wrap, brought to you by @dwbronner and @clarerrrr.

Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak sits inside a cage in a courtroom at the police academy in Cairo, April 13, 2013. REUTERS/Stringer

Add Mubarak to the mix. Deposed President Hosni Mubarak will be released from prison this week, according to the former leader’s attorney. Mubarak, ousted in Egypt’s 2011 uprising, was cleared on Monday of a corruption charge. The news follows wave of violence that left at least 850 dead after a military crackdown last week:

Mubarak, who ruled Egypt for 30 years, was arrested soon after his overthrow and became the first Arab leader to face trial… Mubarak, along with his interior minister, was convicted and sentenced to life in prison last year for failing to stop the killing of protesters in the revolt that swept him from power. He still faces a retrial in that case after appeals from the prosecution and defense, but this would not necessarily require him to stay in jail.

Violence last week and over the weekend has prompted several U.S. lawmakers to call for a halt on $1.5 billion in U.S. aid to Egypt. EU leaders are weighing economic options for pressuring Egypt’s ruling military to find a peaceful solution to the conflict. Still, Western leaders fear that withdrawing aid could increase instability in the region, especially in areas bordering Israel, and strain ties with other key Gulf Arab states. On Sunday, Saudi Arabia warned the U.S. and the EU not to pressure Egypt’s military-backed government. Bloodshed continued this morning when suspected Islamist militants killed at least 24 police officers in the Sinai Peninsula. The weeks of turmoil since Mursi’s July 3 ouster have painted Egypt as the “graveyard” of the Arab Spring. Meanwhile, footage of dying Islamists has provided a rallying cry for al Qaeda.

North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un (front C) visits the construction site of a ski resort being built on Masik Pass in this undated photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on August 18, 2013. REUTERS/KCNA

Cash for coming home. In an unprecedented move for North Korea’s ruling Kim family, the country’s supreme leader Kim Jong-un is attempting to persuade defectors to return to the hermit state with promises of safety, cash rewards, and fame:

North Korean security agents have been visiting families in the reclusive state for at least the past year, telling them it would be safe for their loved ones in the South to come back, several defectors in Seoul told Reuters. Some said they had even heard of people posing as defectors trying to tempt North Koreans in the South this year with a promise of 50 million South Korean won ($45,000) and an opportunity to appear on television in Pyongyang if they returned. “My mother said ‘if you have money, come back. General Kim Jong-un will treat you well’,” said one defector in her 30s who lives in Seoul, recounting a recent telephone conversation with her mother who called her from a North Korean town on the border with China.

Kim’s motive remains unclear, although some defectors believe that an increasingly visible exile community in South Korea is pressuring the leader to maintain control over public perception. One diplomat in Pyongyang said the testimony of defectors who have returned home is used as internal propaganda in North Korea. The number of defectors into South Korea has decreased this year as the North has increased security at the border.

British Royal Navy frigate HMS Westminster is towed towards the port after arriving at Gibraltar bay, south of Spain, August 19, 2013. REUTERS/Jon Nazca

Message received. British warships arrived in Gibraltar for scheduled exercises – a move that some in Spain consider a provocation – as tension between Britain and Spain mounts over fishing around the British territory:

Gibraltar’s creation of an artificial reef with concrete blocks, which Spanish fishermen say blocks their access to certain waters, has prompted Spain to toughen its border checks, leading to long queues for workers and tourists entering Gibraltar. Spain claims the territory, population just 30,000, which it ceded to Britain by treaty 300 years ago.

Spain has threatened to charge tourists a 50-euro levy to cross the border into Gibraltar, restrict access to Spanish airspace, or block the region’s ship-fuelling business. Spanish commercial fishing by Gibraltar has led to multiple spats, and could foment a period of tense relations between the two nations.

Nota Bene: Al Qaeda is planning attacks on high-speed trains in Europe, a German newspaper reports.

Standouts:

Solid rain - Powdered water could help eliminate droughts. (BBC)

Fiery dome - A NASA satellite shows the intensity of Shanghai’s heat wave. (The Atlantic Cities)

Bad kitty - The British owners of a literal cat burglar attempt to return stolen goods. (The Guardian)

Kissidence - Female Russian athletes kiss during an awards ceremony to protest the country’s anti-gay laws. (Sky News)

Diamond demand - Sotheby’s acknowledges Hong Kong’s demand for luxury goods. (The New York Times)

From the File:

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