Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 15 July 2020

From Hong Kong security law to Afghan bounties: the non-coronavirus news you might have missed

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the legislation passed on Tuesday will fill a 'gaping hole' and would not undermine financial centre's autonomy

NATO helicopters fly over the city of Kabul, Afghanistan June 29. 2020. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani
NATO helicopters fly over the city of Kabul, Afghanistan June 29. 2020. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani

Hong Kong: China passes 'urgently needed' national security legislation

China's parliament passed national security legislation for Hong Kong on Tuesday, setting the stage for the most radical changes to the former British colony's way of life since it returned to Chinese rule 23 years ago.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam told the main UN human rights forum that the legislation will fill a "gaping hole" and would not undermine its autonomy.

Ms Lam, in a video message to the Human Rights Council in Geneva, said that legislation to safeguard national security was "urgently needed" for the sake of 7.5 million Hong Kong residents, but also the 1.4 billion people on the mainland.

Hong Kong had been "traumatised by escalating violence fanned by external forces", she said, adding: "No central government could turn a blind eye to such threats to sovereignty and national security as well as risks of subversion of state power".

Read the full story here.

Pompeo calls Taliban leader amid Russian bounty scandal

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has called and spoken with the Taliban’s chief negotiator, a spokesman for the insurgents said on Tuesday, amid a raging controversy in Washington over when President Donald Trump was told about US intelligence that Russia was paying the Taliban to kill US and Nato soldiers in Afghanistan.

However, it was not known whether there was any mention during the call of allegations that some Taliban militants received money to kill US and Nato soldiers in Afghanistan.

Mr Pompeo and Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar held a video conference late on Monday in which Mr Pompeo pressed the insurgents to reduce violence in Afghanistan and discussed ways of moving a peace deal signed between the US and the Taliban in February forward, Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen tweeted.

The call comes as the US peace envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, is touring the region in efforts to advance the deal.

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Ruhollah Zam: Iran issues death sentence for opposition journalist

Iran on Tuesday sentenced a journalist to death whose online work helped inspire nationwide economic protests in 2017.

Ruhollah Zam had returned to Iran under unclear circumstances and was subsequently arrested. Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili announced Zam’s sentence on Tuesday.

Zam had run a website called AmadNews that posted embarrassing videos and information about Iranian officials. He had been living and working in exile in Paris before being convinced into returning to Iran, where he was arrested in October 2019.

Zam later appeared in televised confessions admitting his wrongdoings and offering an apology for his past activities.

Read the full story here.

Palestinian PM urges Europe's leaders to show Israel annexation has a cost

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh has urged British and other European leaders to show Israel that annexation has a cost and to consider sanctions against the country if plans go ahead.

Speaking at an online event organised by the Council for Arab-British Understanding, Mr Shtayyeh railed against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plans to annex parts of the West Bank in July.

The land on which Israel has built settlements is part of the territory Palestinians and much of the international community view as part of a possible future Palestinian state.

“I think the Israelis should realise that this annexation measure has a cost and they will pay for it and I think the British government is in a position to make such a statement,” the Palestinian prime minister said while addressing a group that included British MPs.

Mr Shtayyeh hit out at US President Donald Trump’s so-called deal of the century, revealed at the start of this year, which gave Israel the green light for annexation.

Read the full story here.

Updated: June 30, 2020 03:01 PM

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