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Colombia’s Supreme Court frees ex-FARC leader sought by US

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A former FARC guerrilla leader was freed Thursday on orders of the Colombian Supreme Court, drawing an expression of regret from the United States, which wanted him for alleged drug trafficking.

Jesus Santrich, who was arrested in April, 2018, walked free from the attorney general’s headquarters under a heavy escort, his lawyer, Gustavo Gallado told reporters.

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The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered Santrich’s immediate release on grounds that he was protected by parliamentary immunity as a member of Congress.

Santrich, who helped negotiate a 2016 peace between the FARC and the state, became a member of Congress for the FARC under the terms of the peace agreement.

He was arrested on a US extradition request before he could take his seat.

The Supreme Court has assumed control of the case, and in a letter Thursday, Santrich assured the court he was at its disposition.

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In Washington, a State Department spokeswoman criticized his release.

“As goes for any thriving democracy like Colombia, we respect the decision of the court,” the spokeswoman, Morgan Ortagus, said.

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“But we do find this decision regrettable. The United States has complied with the requirements for extradition as established with Colombia,” she said.

“And the charges against him, as I’m sure you’re aware, are very severe, conspiring to ship over 10,000 kilos of cocaine.”

Santrich, 52, had previously been ordered released by a justice of the peace who is investigating major crimes committed during the FARC’s insurgency.

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He was re-arrested as he was leaving prison on orders of a judge on new charges related to the US allegations of cocaine trafficking.

The case has provoked an uproar in Colombia, which is deeply divided over the 2016 peace pact to end a half century of armed conflict.

Under US pressure, President Ivan Duque, who came to power promising to modify the peace accord he sees as too lenient on the rebels, has reaffirmed his intention to extradite Santrich.

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The former FARC leader has declared himself innocent of the US charges, insisting they were part of a plot by Washington and the Colombian prosecutors.

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… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



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Trump’s ‘oceanic ignorance’ has plunged the world into chaos and the US may never recover: NYT columnist

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On Saturday, New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg blasted President Donald Trump's foreign policy, saying that it was causing the world to "spiral into chaos."

"All over the world, things are getting worse," wrote Goldberg. "China appears to be weighing a Tiananmen Square-like crackdown in Hong Kong. After I spoke to [Pakistani ambassador Assad Majeed] Khan, hostilities between India and Pakistan ratcheted up further; on Thursday, fighting across the border in Kashmir left three Pakistani soldiers dead ... Turkey is threatening to invade Northeast Syria to go after America’s Kurdish allies there, and it’s not clear if an American agreement meant to prevent such an incursion will hold."

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Race to remember Berlin Wall victims, 30 years on

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Where guard towers and barbed wire once stood, runners pounded the 100-mile (160 kilometer) path along the former Berlin Wall this weekend in a race with victims of the Cold War relic at its heart.

On Saturday at 6:00 am (0400 GMT), around 500 runners, started the 8th edition of the Berlin Wall Race, ahead of the 30th anniversary of the Wall's demise this November.

With weary legs, most runners will jog through Saturday night, aiming to reach the city centre stadium which doubles as both start and finish, in the early hours of Sunday.

The race is part ultra-marathon, part tribute to those who died trying to cross the Wall, which the East German communist regime hastily erected in 1961 and stood for 28 years.

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Greenland isn’t for sale but it is increasingly valuable*

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President Donald Trump's reported wish to buy Greenland may have been rejected by Denmark, but it underscores the rapidly rising value of the massive, ice-covered island due to global warming and to China's drive for an Arctic presence.

The accelerating polar ice melt has left sparsely populated Greenland, a self-governing part of Denmark, astride what are potentially major shipping routes and in the crosshairs of intensifying geopolitical competition between superpowers.

It also has untapped natural resources like oil, minerals and valuable rare earth elements that China, the United States and other major tech economies covet.

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