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Musings From Abroad

Teacher facing death penalty in Egypt granted asylum

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A New Jersey teacher who was sentenced to death in Egypt for his pro-democracy activism was given a new lease on life this week.

Ahmed Abdelbasit was finally granted asylum in the US on Tuesday more than two years after he applied, according to the Huffington Post.

The Egyptian educator fled to New Jersey in 2016 and was later sentenced to death in absentia that very same year by a military court.

The international advocacy group, Human Rights Watch, told HuffPost that his punishment was “completely baseless” — and the evidence against him was “almost nonexistent.”

Abdelbasit would later get arrested and detained in April 2018 by Immigration and Customs Enforcement while waiting for his asylum application to go through. He had been on his way to Rising Star Academy in Union City, the school where he taught.

On Tuesday, immigration Judge Daniel Morris granted his release — and ICE refused to appeal.

“I told myself a lot of times, I need to get out. I need to get out for my students,” Abdelbasit said just an hour after he was let out.

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“I’m just very happy because my life now is safe.”

After his release, Abdelbasit made his way over to Rising Star — where he got showered with cheers from his family, friends and students.

“It’s a really happy moment and very relieving,” incoming senior Mariam Siam, 17, told HuffPost.

“I’m just very proud of the efforts of community,” she said.

Abdelbasit’s lawyer, Anwen Hughes, believes his client’s case ultimately showed “the importance of due process.”

Musings From Abroad

Two Liberian Maritime officials arrested for alleged rape in South Korea while on seminar

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Two top Liberian Maritime Authorities staff who were in South Korea for a seminar were on Saturday, arrested and detained by the Asian country’s police for allegedly raping two teenage girls.

The suspects identified as Moses Owen Browne and Daniel Tarr, were arrested at a hotel in the southeastern city of Busan after a friend of the victims reported the case to the police, the Busan police said in a statement.

Browne, Liberia’s Permanent Representative to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), and Tarr, a Director of the Department of Marine Environmental Protection at the Liberia Maritime Authority (LiMA), were in South Korea on a government mission to the IMO, which means they were representing the West African country at the programme.

According to a statement on the LiMA website condemning the incident, the officials were in South Korea attending the “International Maritime Organization (IMO) GHG SMART Practical Training and Study Visit” when this alleged incident occurred.

“LiMA unequivocally maintains a zero-tolerance stance on any types of sexual and gender-based offenses, and views these allegations of the conduct of its Officials as most egregious, having no place in any civilized society.

“Liberia Maritime Authority will fully cooperate with the Government of the Republic of South Korea in the investigation of this incident and vows to take appropriate actions, under national and international Law,” the statement read.

The South Korean police said it plans to seek formal arrest warrants for the two men which would allow them to hold the suspects in custody for up to 10 days before charging them to court.

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Musings From Abroad

Former China’s Justice Minister gets death sentence commuted to life imprisonment for bribery

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Former China’s Justice Minister, Fu Zhenghua, has been sentenced to life imprisonment after a higher court suspended an earlier death sentence passed on him for taking bribes and “bending the law”.

Zhenghua’s death sentence was commuted to a life imprisinment term by the Intermediate People’s Court in the city of Changchun on Thursday after a two-year reprieve.

According China state media, Zhenghua’s high-profile sentencing is part of a “sweeping anti-graft campaign which is coming three weeks before a key political meeting where President Xi Jinping is expected to secure an unprecedented third term.”

During the sentencing, the Intermediate People’s Court judge said the former Minister had abused his power while in a range of senior positions from 2005 to 2021.

“He is deprived of political rights for life and all personal property should be confiscated,” the judge said.

State prosecutors were able to establish that the 67-year-old Zhenghua had accepted bribes worth over 117 million yuan ($16.5 million) during a 16 year period he served in different capacities.

The State media reports that between 2014 and 2015, when he was head of the Beijing Public Security Bureau, Zhenghua hid evidence of suspected crimes committed by his brother, Fu Weihua, and failed to handle the case in accordance with the law.

“During his tenure as Beijing’s top cop, Fu is thought to have led the corruption investigation into Zhou Yongkang, the former security chief who was jailed in 2015 in one of the anti-graft campaign’s most high-profile cases.:

Zhenghua was a member of the Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission and the Minister of Justice before entering semi-retirement in May 2020.

He had also served as the Deputy Director of the Social and Legal Affairs Committee on the Standing Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) when anti-graft authorities launched an investigation into his dealings last October.

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