Rights groups are urging Morocco not to extradite to China a Uyghur activist who was arrested after arriving on a flight from Turkey.
The nongovernmental group Safeguard Defenders said Yidiresi Aishan was taken into custody in response to an Interpol Red Notice issued at China’s request.
The charges against Aishan are not clear.
Morocco’s General Directorate for National Security said Tuesday the Interpol notice was linked to suspicions that Aishan belonged to “an organization on the lists of terrorist organizations.”
Amnesty International said Aishan faces “arbitrary detention and torture if he is forcibly returned to China.”
“Deporting Idris Hasan to China, where Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities are facing a horrifying campaign of mass internment, persecution and torture, would violate international law,” Amnesty International’s Crisis Response Program director, Joanne Mariner, said in a statement.
The World Uyghur Congress also demanded Moroccan authorities halt any deportation procedures. Eric Goldstein, Human Rights Watch deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa region, described the Interpol system as “tainted” and said Aishan should be given a lawyer to fight extradition.
Aishan had been living in Turkey working as a web designer and activist since 2012. He flew from Istanbul to Casablanca on July 19.
A day after withdrawing from the women’s gymnastics team finals, Simone Biles of the United States has taken herself out of the individual all-around competition at the Tokyo Olympics.
A statement issued Wednesday morning from USA Gymnastics said Biles, considered the all-time greatest in her sport, is withdrawing “after further medical evaluation” in order to focus on her mental health.
The statement said Biles will continue to be evaluated daily “to determine whether or not to participate in next week’s individual event finals.”
The 24-year-old Biles withdrew from the overall team finals Tuesday after failing to execute her planned maneuver in the vault and stumbling backward on her landing. She then briefly left the floor with her coach, then returned to rejoin her teammates with her ankle wrapped in a bandage.
With the loss of Biles, the Russian Olympic Committee took the gold in the team finals with the U.S. taking silver and Britain getting the bronze.
Biles later told reporters that she was not in the right frame of mind because of the stress and pressure heading into the competition, and that she needed to “focus on my mental health and not jeopardize my health and well-being.”
“We wholeheartedly support Simone’s decision and applaud her bravery in prioritizing her well-being,” USA Gymnastics said in its statement. “Her courage shows, yet again, why she is a role model for so many.”
Jade Carey, who finished ninth in qualifying, will take Biles’ place in the all-around competition.
Wednesday’s competitions saw U.S. swimmer Katie Ledecky making Olympic history while her Australian rival Ariarne Titmus earned a second gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics.
Ledecky won the finals of the women’s 1,500-meter freestyle race at the Tokyo Aquatics Center, the first time the event has been staged at a Summer Olympics. Ledecky’s fellow American Erica Sullivan won the silver medal, while Sarah Kohler of Germany took home the bronze medal.
Ledecky’s dominating performance in the 1,500-meter freestyle — she finished four seconds ahead of Sullivan — came just moments after her dismal finish in the finals of the 200-meter freestyle event, her second head-to-head matchup against Titmus. The Australian star, whose dominating performances have earned her the nickname “The Terminator” in her home country, finished the race at 1:53.50 (one minute, 53.50 seconds) to set a new Olympic record. Hong Kong’s Siobhan Haughey won the silver medal, while Canadian Penny Oleksiak finished third to take the bronze.
Ledecky finished the 200-meter freestyle in fifth place, nearly two seconds behind Titmus, who also beat the celebrated American in Monday’s 400-meter freestyle race. Ledecky won both events at the 2016 Rio Olympics and had been favored to repeat in Tokyo. But her win in the 1,500-meter freestyle gives her six career Olympic gold medals dating back to the 2012 London Games.
Japanese swimmer Yui Ohashi also became a double gold medal winner Wednesday after winning the 200-meter individual medley, three days after her victory in the 400-meter individual relay. Ohashi edged Americans Alex Walsh and Kate Douglass, who won the silver and bronze medals respectively. Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu, the 2016 champion and current world-record holder, finished in seventh place.
Meanwhile, the British men’s team, anchored by Tom Dean, Duncan Scott, James Guy and Matthew Richards, won the 4×200 freestyle relay race, giving Britain its third swimming gold medal at Tokyo. Dean won the 200-meter freestyle Tuesday, with Adam Peaty winning gold in the 100-meter breaststroke the day before.
And Kristof Milak of Hungary set a new Olympic record in winning the gold medal in the men’s 200-meter butterfly race, finishing at 1:51.25 (one minute, 51.25 seconds), with 19-year-old Tomoru Honda of Japan winning the silver medal and Italy’s Federico Burdisso finishing third to win the bronze medal.
Cyclist Annemiek van Vleuten of the Netherlands won the gold medal in the women’s time trials event with a time of 30:13.49 (30 minutes, 13.49 seconds) at Fuji International Speedway. Switzerland’s Marlen Reusser finished in second place, with van Vleuten’s compatriot Anna van der Breggen winning bronze.
Van Vleuten’s victory is certain to erase the memory of her humiliating finish in Sunday’s road race when she ecstatically crossed the finish line believing she had won, only to find out Austrian Anna Kiesenhofer had broken away from the field to take the gold medal, leaving van Vleuten with the silver medal.
Some Nigerian companies are using coconut and palm shells to make charcoal briquettes in an effort to slow ongoing deforestation. Nigeria banned charcoal exports after a World Bank report showed the country lost nearly half its forest cover in just a decade. Timothy Obiezu reports from Kuje, Nigeria.
Camera: Emeka Gibson
Russia is already interfering in next year’s midterm U.S. elections, President Joe Biden said Tuesday in a speech at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI).
Referencing the day’s classified briefing prepared by the intelligence community for him, Biden said: “Look at what Russia’s doing already about the 2022 election and misinformation.”
Such actions by Moscow are a “pure violation of our sovereignty,” the president said, without elaborating, in remarks to about 120 representatives of the U.S. intelligence community who gathered in northern Virginia at the ODNI headquarters.
Biden’s public reference to something contained in that day’s top secret Presidential Daily Brief is certain to raise some eyebrows.
“He’s the president. He can declassify anything he wants to whenever he wants to,” said Emily Harding, deputy director and senior fellow with the international security program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
“And I’m not sure it’s going to be a shock to anybody that Russia is looking at disinformation for the 2022 election. I think it is a really good reminder, though, that Russia continues to do this and that nothing has dissuaded them yet,” she said.
The president also had an ominous prediction about the escalating cyberattacks targeting the United States that his administration has blamed on state-backed hackers in China and those operating with impunity in Russia.
Biden said he believes it is growing more likely the United States could “end up in a real shooting war with a major power,” as the consequence of a cyber breach.
Such cyber capabilities of U.S. adversaries are “increasing exponentially,” according to the president.
Russian President Vladimir Putin seemed much on Biden’s mind during his remarks to the intelligence community.
Putin has “nuclear weapons, oil wells and nothing else,” Biden said, adding that the Russian leader knows he is in real trouble economically, “which makes him even more dangerous.”
Biden also praised the U.S. intelligence community for its superiority over its counterpart in Moscow.
Putin “knows that you’re better than his team. And it bothers the hell out of him,” Biden said.
“I can see the wheels in Moscow turning to respond to that one,” Harding told VOA.
Biden referred to both Russia and China as “possibly mortal competitors down the road.”
In his remarks, the U.S. president said that Chinese President Xi Jinping “is deadly earnest about becoming the most powerful military force in the world, as well as the largest and most prominent economy in the world” by the mid-2040s.
Biden made several cryptic references to hypersonic weapons of adversaries. But he stopped himself once in midsentence after saying, “I don’t know, we probably have some people who aren’t totally cleared” in the room. In fact, a group of White House reporters was present, and a television camera was recording the speech on behalf of the media.
The president also appealed to his intelligence team, which is composed of elements from 17 different agencies, “to give it to me straight. I’m not looking for pablum … and when you’re not sure, say you’re not sure.”
Biden said he “can’t make the decisions I need to make if I’m not getting the best unvarnished, unbiased judgments you can give. I’m not looking to hear nice things. I’m looking to hear what you think to be the truth.”
Those words are “a big deal. That’s the thing that he probably most needed to say” to this particular audience, according to Harding.
Biden stressed that the intelligence agencies should not be swayed by which political party holds power in Congress or the White House. He said it is “so vital that you are and should be totally free of any political pressure or partisan influence.”
Biden vowed that while he is president he will not try to “affect or alter your judgments about what you think the situation we face is. I’ll never politicize the work you do. You have my word on that. It’s too important for our country.”
The appearance by the 46th U.S. president was intended, in part, to demonstrate a different relationship with the intelligence community than experienced by his predecessor, Donald Trump.
“I think you can all make the inherent contrast,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters the previous day.
Trump’s attitude toward the intelligence community publicly soured after he sided with Putin’s denial of the U.S. government’s conclusion that the Kremlin had meddled in the 2016 presidential election. Trump, a Republican, narrowly defeated Democratic Party challenger Hillary Clinton in that election.