Russia expels two American diplomats
MOSCOW -- Russia's Foreign Ministry on Thursday declared two U.S. diplomats "persona non grata" and ordered them to leave the country within seven days, as they were allegedly involved in "illegal activity."
The ministry charged in a statement that the first secretary at the U.S. Embassy in Russia, Jeffrey Sillin, and the second secretary, David Bernstein, "kept in touch" with a former employee of the U.S. Consulate in Vladivostok who was arrested earlier this year. The ex-employee was accused of collecting information for U.S. diplomats about Russia's military action in Ukraine and related issues.
According to the statement, U.S. Ambassador to Russia Lynne Tracy was summoned to the ministry on Thursday and informed that Sillin and Bernstein were being expelled.
"It was also emphasized that illegal activities of the U.S. diplomatic mission, including interference in the internal affairs of the host country, are unacceptable and will be resolutely suppressed. The Russian side expects Washington to draw the right conclusions and refrain from confrontational steps," the statement said.
State Department spokesman Matthew Miller, speaking to reporters in Washington said: "Yet again, Russia has chosen confrontation and escalation over constructive diplomatic engagement. It continues to harass employees of our embassy, just as it continues to intimidate its own citizens."
Suspect charged in German knife attacks
BERLIN -- Germany's federal prosecutor's office said Thursday it had brought charges of murder, attempted murder and grievous bodily harm against a Syrian citizen in connection with two "Islamist-motivated" knife attacks.
The suspect is accused of stabbing a man to death in the city of Duisburg in April, and of a second attack a few days later in which five people at a gym suffered knife wounds.
The man, identified only as Maan D. in line with German privacy rules, is a follower of the Islamic State group, the prosecutor's statement alleged. He was charged on Aug. 30, the statement said.
He is accused of first stabbing to death a man he met by chance in the early hours of April 9 this year in Duisburg's old city.
He allegedly stabbed the victim at least 28 times in the abdomen, head and neck area with a knife. The victim died on the same day.
On April 18, he allegedly went to a gym in Duisburg to kill as many of the people he considered "infidels" as possible.
Prosecutors say he stabbed three studio visitors in the locker room and shower area, in some cases several times in the upper body, causing life-threatening injuries. Subsequently, they say he inflicted two stab wounds to the thigh of a first-aid provider.
The suspect was detained on April 24 and has been in prison since then.
Brazilian gets 17-year term for uprising
SAO PAULO -- Brazil's Supreme Court handed a 17-year prison sentence Thursday to a supporter of former President Jair Bolsonaro who stormed top government offices on Jan. 8 in an alleged bid to forcefully restore the right-wing leader to office.
Aécio Lúcio Costa Pereira, 51, is the first of several participants in the uprising to be prosecuted.
In January, cameras at the Senate filmed him wearing a shirt calling for a military coup and recording a video of himself praising others who had also broken into the building. Almost 1,500 people were detained on the day of the riots, though most have been released.
The majority of the 11 justices of the court ruled that Pereira committed five crimes: criminal association; staging a coup; violent attack on the rule of law; qualified damage; and destruction of public assets. They sentenced him to 17 years in prison.
Pereira denied any wrongdoing and claimed he took part in a peaceful demonstration of unarmed people.
Stuck cruise ship freed in Greenland
COPENHAGEN, Denmark -- The luxury cruise ship MV Ocean Explorer was successfully pulled free on Thursday, three days after running aground in Greenland with 206 people on board, authorities and the ship's owner said.
The ship was freed by a fisheries research vessel at high tide, said the cruise ship's owner, Copenhagen-based SunStone Ships, and the Joint Arctic Command, which coordinated the operation.
"There have not been any injuries to anybody onboard, no pollution of the environment and no breach of the hull," SunStone Ships said in a statement. The research vessel which pulled the cruise ship belongs to the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources, a government agency, it said.
It said the cruise ship and its passengers will now travel to a port where the damage to the vessel's bottom can be assessed, and the passengers will be taken to a location from where they can be flown home. There was no immediate comment from the tour company that organized the trip, Australia-based Aurora Expeditions.
The cruise ship ran aground Monday above the Arctic Circle in Alpefjord in Northeast Greenland National Park, the world's northernmost national park.