WORLD IN BRIEF

Chinese execute accused spy

From News Services

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Despite pleas of clemency from the Bush administration and European officials, a biomedical researcher convicted of espionage by a Chinese court was executed Friday, according to family members and U.S. Embassy officials.

Wo Weihan, 59, was convicted of passing military documents and classified information about an unnamed Chinese leader to Taiwan. The American Embassy had protested Wo’s conviction, saying his trial was carried out in total secrecy and that the accusations, if true, did not constitute a capital crime.

Wo was arrested in 2005 and suffered a stroke two weeks later. He had been held at a prison hospital until Friday morning, when he was executed by a gunshot to the head, according to family members.

Russian leader visits Fidel Castro

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev met with ailing revolutionary icon Fidel Castro in Cuba, winding up a visit aimed at freshening relations with his country’s old Cold War ally and raising Moscow’s profile across the rest of Latin America. Russian officials deny that Medvedev’s four-nation trip was meant to provoke the U.S., but the chat with Castro capped meetings with Washington’s staunchest opponents in the region.

Rules for sexual tourism urged

Tourists who go abroad to abuse children should face the prospect of prosecution in their home countries if they are caught in nations with lax penalties, about 3,000 experts and government representatives from 137 nations at a U.N.-backed conference in Brazil concluded.

NATO copter too late to stop pirates

Somali pirates seized control of a chemical tanker and a NATO helicopter gunship, too late to prevent the hijacking, picked up three security guards who jumped into the sea. Another hijacked ship was released with all 25 Filipino crew unharmed after more than two months.

Gitmo detainee’s health concerns

The health of a Guantanamo Bay prisoner on hunger strike for more than three years has deteriorated sharply, his lawyer said in legal papers seeking an independent medical examination. Ahmed Zuhair, who has not been charged with a crime, appears to weigh no more than 100 pounds, more than 35 pounds less than the military said he weighed in August, attorney Ramzi Kassem said in a motion filed in federal court. The military keeps Zuhair alive by force-feeding him liquid nutrients twice daily through a nasal tube.

Parties consider new ruling coalition

Opposition parties said they may seek to topple the Conservative government and form a ruling coalition because it isn’t doing enough to rescue Canada from the impact of the global economic crisis. The opposition Liberals and other parties are discussing the option despite a national election last month that the Conservatives won.

Court orders respirator removed

A South Korean court ordered the removal of a respirator from a comatose patient, saying the “meaningless” extension of life was against the patient’s right to die with dignity. The 76-year-old patient has been in a permanent, vegetative coma since suffering brain damage in February.