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Libya seeks release of detainees in Iraq

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TRIPOLI — A Libyan delegation is in Baghdad to negotiate the release of countrymen detained in Iraqi prisons, senior officials said on Thursday, adding that eight prisoners have been pardoned.

“We will receive some of the (Libyan) prisoners that are in Iraq,” Justice Minister Hmeida Ashur told AFP.

“The order for the release of eight prisoners in Iraq was signed yesterday and they will be transferred to Libya in the next couple of days,” he added, without elaborating.

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He was speaking during a visit to a freshly built courthouse and prison complex in the suburb of Tajura, east of Tripoli, which the interim authorities say reflect broader efforts to revive the judiciary and conduct fair trials.

Interim leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil had said on Wednesday that negotiations were under way with Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon to secure the handover of Libyan prisoners there.

On Thursday, the head of the Libyan delegation to Baghdad, Suleiman Fortia, said that there are “about 20 Libyan prisoners” being held in Iraq’s penitentiary system.

He added that Iraqi President Jalal Talabani had approved the release of eight.

“The president of Iraq has approved the release of eight prisoners,” Fortia told AFP, adding that he hoped that the transfer to Libya of all prisoners, including four facing life-sentences, would be secured soon.

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Of the eight released, Fortia said, most had committed “minor offences” such as illegal entry and forging papers in an effort to “flee from the regime of Moamer Kadhafi,” the Libyan dictator who was toppled and killed last year.

Iraqi officials contacted by AFP gave no confirmation of a prisoner deal.

However, the presidency published a statement saying Fortia had delivered a letter from Abdel Jalil to Talabani. The statement gave no details on its contents.

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Fortia also met Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari.

The foreign ministry in Baghdad said in a statement on its website that “the issue of Libyan prisoners and detainees in Iraq” had been discussed but made no mention of a conclusive agreement.

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Libya and Iraq restored full diplomatic ties on March 23.

The North African nation announced in June 2003 it was breaking off diplomatic ties with Baghdad and closing its embassy shortly after the US-led invasion of Iraq earlier that year.

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2020 Election

Here is why these Nevadans are betting on Sanders

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LAS VEGAS — Any doubts that Nevadans wouldn't show up for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) were quickly squashed by the amount of people lined up to get into his Friday night rally in Las Vegas on the eve of the Nevada caucus: an estimated 2,020, according to his campaign. One would have been forgiven for assuming the crowd spilling out the main entrance and down the street had lined up to get into one of the city's hottest shows, not a "Get Out the Vote" event. Despite stereotypes that Sanders only draws support from the young (and mostly white), the crowd was visibly diverse in age, ethnicity and race. And anyone who didn't arrive already wearing the requisite Bernie gear had plenty of opportunities to buy some as they waited to enter the venue.

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Roger Stone’s dream of booting judge for sentencing comments brutally crushed by ex-US Attorney: ‘He’s met his match’

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Appearing on MSNBC on Saturday afternoon, former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance crushed any hopes former Donald Trump associate Roger Stone might have that his prison sentence will be voided due to comments made by the presiding judge in his federal trial.

Speaking with host Alex Witt, Vance left no doubt Stone's latest legal gambit will collapse just like his previous attempts to squirm out of his trial did.

"Stone's legal team says that Judge Amy Berman Jackson's assertion that the jurors served with integrity shows bias," host Witt stated. "Do you buy that argument and legally would that be enough to get the judge dismissed from the case?"

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Commentary

You’re a frog in a pot and Donald Trump is turning up the heat

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Welcome to another edition of What Fresh Hell?, Raw Story’s roundup of news items that might have become controversies under another regime, but got buried – or were at least under-appreciated – due to the daily firehose of political pratfalls, unhinged tweet storms and other sundry embarrassments coming out of the current White House.

"Trump has instructed his White House to identify and force out officials across his administration who are not seen as sufficiently loyal," reported The Washington Post this week. It's one element in "a post-impeachment escalation that administration officials say reflects a new phase of a campaign of retribution and restructuring ahead of the November election." It's unclear what criteria they are using to define loyalty to this president*, but it's important to understand a few things about this story.

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