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Iran rejects American’s guilty plea in Saudi assasination plot

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Iran’s foreign ministry on Saturday rejected a guilty plea by an Iranian-American man that he conspired with Iranian officials to kill the Saudi ambassador in Washington.

Manssor Arbabsiar pleaded guilty on Wednesday at the New York federal court to attempting to hire a Mexican drug gang for $1.5 million to blow up the Saudi envoy in a restaurant he frequented in Washington.

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But Iran’s foreign ministry questioned the plea and rejected the notion that “any Iranian organisation” had any role in the plot.

“Pleading guilty after initial denial and a year (in custody) is a sign of psychological pressure and the abnormal situation of US jails and solitary confinement there,” its spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said in a statement reported by the state broadcaster’s website.

“This ridiculous scenario was designed by American officials a year ago while the man arrested denied all charges. Some (non-American) officials and political pundits have said it is unreal and likened it to a Hollywood scenario,” he said.

Mehmanparast also condemned what he called “the misuse of the judicial system and designing absurd and baseless plots in the current political state in the US,” without elaborating.

The claim that Iranian officials were involved in the plot was made in October last year, and the United States said it traced the supposed plan to the Quds Force, a special operations unit of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.

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Arbabsiar, a former car salesman, was arrested in September last year at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, and was charged along with co-defendant Gholam Shakuri, a senior Quds Force member who remains at large.

Iran repeatedly denied any involvement in the plot, which strained already frayed relations with regional powerhouse Saudi Arabia.

In a largely symbolic vote last November, the UN General Assembly demanded that Iran cooperate with the US investigation into the plot.

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[Image via Agence France-Presse]


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Boeing is no longer manufacturing airplanes after closing its last factory ‘until further notice’: report

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Boeing announced Monday it is suspending production of its 787 Dreamliner aircraft "until further notice" due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on workers and suppliers.

Shuttering the South Carolina plant on Wednesday halts production at the last of the aviation giant's US commercial aircraft facilities.

Boeing, which employs more than 161,000 people, the vast majority in the United States, already suspended activity indefinitely at its factories in Washington state.

The company had been struggling with the grounding of its 737 MAX aircraft after two deadly crashes when the COVID-19 outbreak hit, halting most air travel worldwide and leading some airlines to cancel orders for new aircraft.

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Trump is ‘unethical and tyrannical’ for firing inspector general who relayed Ukraine complaint: Conservative columnist

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On Monday, writing for the Washington Examiner, conservative columnist Quin Hillyer laid into President Donald Trump for getting rid of intelligence community inspector general Michael Atkinson.

Hillyer pointed out that the GOP and some Democrats "rightly expressed outrage" when President Barack Obama fired Gerald Walpin, the AmeriCorps inspector general who Obama had claimed was "confused and disoriented" in meetings and took unauthorized absences from work. But "Trump has even less reason to fire Atkinson now than Obama had to fire Walpin then."

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Trump admits he hasn’t read Capt. Brett Crozier’s letter — but is angry about it anyway

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At President Donald Trump's Monday press briefing for the coronavirus task force, he claimed that he was angry about Navy Capt. Brett Crozier's leaked letter warning of COVID-19 spreading throughout the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt — but admitted he hadn't even read what was in it.

"I think it was five pages long, single-spaced," Trump said. "That's a lot of words!" He also said that it was bad how many copies of the letter he had made — "I think 28."

As he had earlier in the press conference, Trump was more evasive about whether he agreed with acting Navy Secretary's Thomas Modly's decision to relieve Crozier of command of the vessel, saying that he would have to discuss it with Modly.

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