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Pakistan intelligence says US gunman is CIA

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ISLAMABAD (AFP) – A Pakistani intelligence official said Monday that an American in custody for killing two men was an undercover CIA contractor, in remarks likely to inflame a crisis with the United States.

Washington insists that Raymond Davis, who says he acted in self-defence, is a member of its Islamabad embassy’s “administrative and technical staff” who has diplomatic immunity and should be released immediately.

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But the unpopular government in Pakistan is under huge pressure from the political opposition not to cave in to US demands, with analysts even warning that the case could bring down the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).

“It is beyond any shadow of a doubt that he was working for CIA,” an official from Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency told AFP on condition of anonymity.

“He’s on contract. He’s not a regular CIA guy, but he’s working for CIA. That’s confirmed,” the Pakistani official said.

Pakistan’s powerful intelligence services and military have been angered by accusations that they support Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked networks fighting US troops in Afghanistan, and need to do more to eliminate Islamist militants.

Few in Pakistan believe Davis, who reportedly worked for a security contractor and had a background in US Special Forces, is a regular diplomat.

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Police told AFP they recovered a Glock pistol, four loaded magazines, a GPS navigation system and a small telescope from his car, after the shooting on a busy street in the eastern city of Lahore on January 27.

A third Pakistani was struck down and killed by a US diplomatic vehicle that came to Davis’s assistance. US officials denied Pakistan access to the vehicle and the occupants are widely believed to have left the country.

Washington has postponed a round of talks with Afghanistan and Pakistan, but Islamabad has said the matter is before the courts, although one compromise would be for the families to pardon Davis, in keeping with Islamic law.

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On Monday, a judge at Lahore’s top court ordered the government to appear on March 14 to respond to private petitions related to his incarceration, the law on diplomatic privileges and how Davis was allowed into the country.

The court last week deferred any judgement on whether Davis has diplomatic immunity and gave the foreign ministry until March 14 to determine his status.

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US Senator John Kerry visited Pakistan last week to express regret and say Davis would face a criminal investigation at home, but hopes for a swift resolution now appear unlikely.

Local analysts suggested Pakistani intelligence had deliberately decided to complicate the case in order to put pressure on the government and the United States, with whom relations have been troubled over the war in Afghanistan.

“This would be seen as a kind of deliberate attempt to make the situation more difficult and complex to handle, and this provides additional material to the Islamic groups to adopt a hardline stance,” said analyst Hasan Askari.

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“These (intelligence) groups are not happy with the way America was building pressure on Pakistan on the war on terrorism.

“If it goes to the street and massive agitation, all political parties will find it a good opportunity to knock the PPP out of power,” he said.

So sensitive is the case that Fauzia Wahab, spokeswoman for the ruling party, was forced to resign after saying that diplomats have immunity and that Davis had an “official” visa.

The PPP has also ditched former foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi in a recent cabinet reshuffle.

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Qureshi, who was still in his post at the time of the shootings, said last week that in his view Davis did not have full diplomatic immunity.

The Pakistani intelligence official said the Davis case had soured relations with the Central Intelligence Agency.

“Our relations with the CIA are now sort of pretty dicey. It has affected our relationship,” the official told AFP.


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Financial groups gave $745 billion for 258 new coal power plants: Report

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Financial institutions have chaneled $745 billion over the past three years to new coal power projects worldwide despite effort to reduce fossil fuel use to fight climate change, a report released Thursday said.

The amount was calculated using data covering both lending and underwriting between January 2017 and September 2019 for all 258 coal plant developers identified in the Global Coal Exit List, drawn up by the Urgewald and BankTrack groups.

Altogether, the report cites more than 1,000 new coal power stations or units in the pipeline.

"Most of the top banks providing loans or investment banking services to these companies acknowledge the risks of climate change, but their actions are a slap in the face to the Paris Climate Agreement," said Greig Aitken, climate campaigner at BankTrack.

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Where’s the ‘secret’ White House Russia room? diplomat jokes

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One of Moscow's top diplomats joked to President Donald Trump on Thursday after touring the White House that he was disappointed not to have seen the "secret" Russia room.

"Thank you for the tour of the White House," Vasily Nebenzya, the Russian ambassador to the United Nations, told Trump at a lunch for the members of the UN Security Council.

"We saw the China room, but we didn't see the Russia room," Nebenzya said to laughter from around the table, adding that he wondered if such a room existed but was "top secret."

Nebenzya's quip followed remarks by China's UN ambassador, Zhang Jun, who thanked Trump for his hospitality, saying, "We have made a tour around this number of rooms: the green one, the red one and also the China room."

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US indicts ‘Evil Corp’ hackers with alleged Russian intelligence ties

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A Lamborghini-driving Moscow hacker who called his operation Evil Corp and has ties to the FSB Russian intelligence service was indicted by US authorities Thursday for the cybertheft of tens of millions of dollars.

An indictment unsealed in Pittsburgh named Maksim Yakubets and his Evil Corp partner Igor Turashev as the main figures in a group which inserted malware on computers in dozens of countries to steal more than $100 million from companies and local authorities.

The indictment was accompanied by sanctions from the US Treasury on the two men, as well as the announcement of a $5 million reward toward Yakubets' arrest and conviction -- the highest reward ever offered for a cybercriminal.

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