December 12th, 2013
01:54 PM ET

Wife of U.S. pastor held in Iran pleads for his freedom

CNN's Ashley Frantz

The wife of an American pastor imprisoned in Iran pleaded with a House subcommittee on foreign affairs Thursday to do something to free her husband.

Naghmeh Abedini said that her husband, Saeed Abedini, went to Iran to build an orphanage but was imprisoned unjustly because of his Christian beliefs.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Iran
July 30th, 2013
03:47 PM ET

Bradley Manning found not guilty of aiding the enemy, guilty on other charges

By Ashley Fantz and Chelsea J. Carter

A military judge has found Pfc. Bradley Manning, accused of the largest leak of classified information in U.S. history, not guilty of aiding the enemy - a charge that would have carried a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Manning was also found not guilty of unauthorized possession of information relating to national defense.

He was found guilty of most of the remaining charges against him, with the judge, Col. Denise Lind, accepting only two of the guilty pleas he had made previously to lesser charges. Those two were possession of a video that was marked classified and that he exceeded authority by obtaining a State Department cable.

Though those two counts carry a maximum sentence of two years, the rest of the charges that Manning was found guilty of could lead to a maximum sentence of 136 years in prison. Among the charges Manning was found guilty of - which carry a maximum 10-year sentence - are the theft of more than 700 U.S. Southern Command records, the possession of records pertaining to Afghanistan; the theft of State Department cables and the possession of classified Army documents.

FULL STORY
July 29th, 2013
01:38 PM ET

A flicker of hope as Israeli-Palestinian peace talks set for Monday

By Michael Schwartz and Ashley Fantz from Jerusalem

For the first time in three years, Israelis and Palestinians will come to the negotiating table in Washington on Monday night.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry reiterated praise for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday morning.

The talks will be "a difficult process," but he added that the consequences of not trying could be worse. Kerry said the goal is to seek "reasonable compromises" on "tough, complicated, emotional" and symbolic issues, then he announced former U.S. ambassador to Israel, Martin Indyk, as U.S. envoy to the talks.

Indyk understands that peace will not come easily, but that "there is now a path forward, and we must follow that path with urgency," Kerry added.

FULL STORY
Marine Corps to spouse clubs: Allow same-sex members or you can't operate on base
Ashley Broadway, left, and her wife, Lt. Col. Heather Mack.
January 10th, 2013
01:33 PM ET

Marine Corps to spouse clubs: Allow same-sex members or you can't operate on base

It apparently takes more than a few good men, according to the U.S. Marine Corps. It takes all kinds of people to support military families, including same-sex spouses of service members.

CNN published a story this week about a woman married to a female lieutenant colonel at Fort Bragg who believes she was rejected from an officers' spouse club because she's gay.  Less than a day later, Maj. Gen. Vaughn Ary advised Marine Corps legal staff such clubs conducting business on its bases must admit same-same spouses. If they do not, the clubs will be barred from meeting on any Marine Corps installation. Read the full story

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Filed under: Army • Marines
Out - but not in: Military club closes ranks to gay wife
Ashley Broadway, left, and her wife, Lt. Col. Heather Mack. Broadway says a Fort Bragg spouse club rejected her.
January 8th, 2013
10:54 AM ET

Out - but not in: Military club closes ranks to gay wife

A gay member of the military and her spouse's experience may reflect a struggle at the nation's military bases to adapt culturally to the legal changes brought on by 2011's repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

Though gay people can now serve openly, the military doesn't formally recognize same-sex marriage under the federal Defense of Marriage Act, a law passed in 1996 that denies many benefits to same-sex spouses. One of those benefits is military IDs.

 

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Filed under: DADT
Slain ambassador warned in '08 about extremists near Benghazi
September 12th, 2012
03:41 PM ET

Slain ambassador warned in '08 about extremists near Benghazi

In 2008, U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens warned in a diplomatic cable about a growing jihadist group in Derna, operating not far from Benghazi.

Stevens was killed this week in an attack that U.S. sources tell CNN was planned by a pro-al Qaeda group of extremists.

The cable was leaked in the trove that WikiLeaks released in 2010 and 2011, and CNN reported on it last year.

In his 2008 missive, Stevens wrote about the group, apparently operating in the port city of Derna.

"One Libyan interlocutor likened young men in Derna to Bruce Willis' character in the action picture "Die Hard", who stubbornly refused to die quietly," Stevens wrote.

SEE FULL POST

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Filed under: Libya • Security Brief
September 12th, 2012
09:56 AM ET

Townsend: Libya has been suffering 'fragile' security

Libya has been in a "very fragile" state of security for a while, and the U.S. and international community failed in paying the country consistent and adequate attention so that it would grow stronger since the killing of its longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi in October 2011.

That's according to Fran Townsend, a former Homeland Security adviser to President George W. Bush and current CNN contributor who spoke Wednesday morning in the wake of the death of J. Christopher Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya. Stevens was killed in an attack on a diplomatic facility in Benghazi on Tuesday.

Libya "really needs the attention and support of the international community," Townsend said. "Unfortunately it will now get the attention it needed before this tragedy."

"I think we [the United States] have supported the freedom movement [throughout the region], especially in Libya," Townsend said. "We supported the strikes. We were a part of the effort by NATO. But it's not enough, right? It's not enough to help people actually get their freedom, overthrow a government. You're going to have to come in behind them and help them as a fledgling democracy." FULL POST

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Filed under: Libya • Security Brief
June 8th, 2012
02:00 AM ET

"You have an RPG in your leg"

Editor's note: Watch Barbara Starr's report on Sanjay Gupta MD (Saturday at 430pET/Sunday at 730aET).

By Ashley Fantz, with reporting from Barbara Starr and Larry Shaughnessy

If it were a movie, the moment would play slowly.

The big, boyish eyes of 23-year-old Marine Cpl. Winder Perez would widen. His lips would part. The sound of chaos around him would be muted as he watched a rocket-propelled grenade zooming toward him.

Then, snapped back to real time, Perez would look down and think: "Oh, crap! I have an RPG in my leg!"

FULL POST

No friend of Ahmadinejad, Iranian insider still defends nuclear ambitions
June 5th, 2012
03:38 PM ET

No friend of Ahmadinejad, Iranian insider still defends nuclear ambitions

By Ashley Fantz

A former spokesman for Iran's nuclear program whose life was turned upside down when President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad accused him of spying still vigorously defended his homeland's nuclear efforts on Tuesday.

Sayed Hossein Mousavian stressed that the West is making a mistake in believing that Iran is making a bomb, or that the country has nefarious intentions with its nuclear plan.

Mousavian, an associate research scholar at Princeton, spoke for an hour at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington.

He repeatedly said that the West, particularly the United States, must recognize Iran's right to build its nuclear program and that the United States and Iran would be better served if they were less suspicious of each other. He also argued that the international community should ease sanctions against Iran. FULL POST

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Filed under: Ahmadinejad • Diplomacy • IAEA • Iran • Middle East • Nuclear
December 20th, 2011
11:04 AM ET

What it's like in North Korea: Volleyball, no pollution, no traffic

Editor's Note: After Kim Jong Il's death brought tears in North Korea and caused concern for South Korea, we're taking a look at the secretive nation from the view of those who have traveled there.

The first time that Brit Simon Cockerell visited North Korea, he noticed how clean it seemed. The air was not polluted like in Beijing, where he has lived since 2000. Another curiosity also struck him: In the capital of Pyongyang, there were no advertisements or billboards, and there was no traffic.

One of the rare times one might see North Koreans out and about during the day is when co-workers are doing aerobics with their "work unit" in the morning, he said. Around lunchtime, workers might venture outside again, perhaps stringing up a net or marking a line in the street to play a quick match of volleyball before returning to the grind.

"It's a place that can seem very dead during the week. There are a few bars in Pyongyang, but they close around 10 p.m. There are no crowds. And this is odd, because there are 3 million who live in that city," said Cockerell, who has visited North Korea more than 100 times.

"There isn't any hustle or bustle. Everything is a five-minute drive away. You wind up, typically, on your first day saying to yourself, 'Bloody hell, I'm in North Korea, where is everyone?'" Read the full story

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Filed under: North Korea
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