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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

NSA Whistleblower Says He Is Not ‘Traitor or Hero’, Just ‘An American’

Edward Snowden, the whistleblower behind the biggest US intelligence leak in history, has told Hong Kong newspaper South China Morning Post that he will fight attempts at extraditing him from the Chinese territory. “I’m neither a traitor nor hero. I’m an American”, he told the newspaper, adding that he was not in Hong Kong “to hide from justice; I am here to reveal criminality”. Snowden also said his intention was to “ask the courts and people of Hong Kong to decide my fate. I have been given no reason to doubt your system”. Analysts say Snowden’s choice of Hong Kong might have been misguided, as the city has an extradition treaty with the US, but that the process could eventually be blocked by the government in Beijing. “In controversial political cases it would likely go to the court of appeal and ultimately the court of final appeal”, said Tim Parker, an immigration lawyer, adding that it “could go on for months and easily into years“.

Greece Ceases Public Broadcaster Transmissions Overnight in Cost Cutting Measure

The Greek government unexpectedly announced last night the immediate closure of ERT, the country’s national broadcaster, causing shock and calls for a national strike. The move is meant to help the government meet its redundancy commitment to the troika of dismissing 2,000 people in the public sector by the end of July. Some of the 2,656 employees at ERT vowed to remain on air despite the decision and appeared for work this morning. According to government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou the broadcaster, which was partly funded with €300 million in licence fees a year, cost “three to seven times as much as other TV stations and employed four to six times the personnel.” Some unions and politicians are calling for the government to revert the closure. “Many times the word ‘coup’ is used as an exaggeration,” said Greek opposition leader Alexis Tsipras. “In this case, it is not an exaggeration.” ERT’s three television stations amounted to 10% of viewers, half the share of Greece’s biggest private station. The broadcaster also ran four national radio stations as well as regional and international services.

Lewd Dish In Menu Causes Political Turmoil in Australia

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has called for Liberal candidate Mal Brough to be disendorsed following a “sexist and offensive” menu used at one of his party’s fundraiser dinners and also criticised opposition leader, Tony Abbott, for a demeaning and “sexist pattern of behaviour”. Brough, a former federal minister, hosted the dinner in March and the menu featured a dish called “Julia Gillard Kentucky Fried Chicken” that was described as “small breasts, huge thighs & a big red box”. Abbott, who is ahead in the polls and expected to win next elections in September, condemned the menu but said he would “absolutely not” dump Brough. “I think the real risk for Australia is if Mr. Abbott is ever prime minister it would not be a question of what is on fundraising menus – we would see this lack of respect for women littered throughout all of his government policy documents,” said Gillard. The coalition though has claimed that Gillard is trying to reignite gender wars to hide internal divisions about her leadership.

Lionel Messi Accused of €4 Million Tax Fraud

Argentine football superstar and FC Barcelona player Lionel Messi and his father Jorge Horacio have been accused by Spanish tax authorities of failing to declare nearly €4 million in income between 2007 and 2009. The complaint, filed in the city of Gava, where the player resides, alleges that his father created a strategy to “avoid paying taxes” while he was still a minor and that the strategy was “founded on his elevated present and future economic value”. Jorge Horacio asked Rodolfo Schinocca, Messi’s former agent, to come up with a plan to defraud the tax authorities and this plan was later “ratified” by Messi once he reached 18 years of age. The plan consisted in selling the player’s image rights to hollow companies in tax havens such as Belize and Uruguay, where his incomes were not taxed. “We have just known through the media about the claim filed by the Spanish tax authorities. We are surprised about the news, because we have never committed any infringement”, wrote Messi in a statement on his Facebook page.

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