SYDNEY (AP) — An Australian nurse who says he was forced by Islamic State militants to work as a medic in Syria was arrested after returning home and faces potential terrorism-related charges.
Adam Brookman, 39, was arrested at Sydney International Airport on Friday night on a Victoria state warrant relating to his alleged involvement in the conflict in Syria, Australian Federal Police said in a statement.
He appeared from a police cell by video link in the Parramatta Bail Court on Saturday, where a magistrate granted an application by the Melbourne Joint Counter Terrorism Team to extradite him to Victoria. He is to appear in a Melbourne court no later than Monday morning.
The court heard a warrant for Brookman’s arrest was issued on Friday. Police did not detail the charges he could face.
Brookman did not speak during his brief appearance.
He surrendered to Turkish officials in Turkey on Tuesday. He voluntarily flew back to Australia with a police escort.
Brookman, a Muslim convert and father of five children who live in Melbourne, told Fairfax Media in May that he went to Syria last year to do humanitarian work for civilians caught in the war. He said he was innocent of any crime.
Brookman said he was forced to join Islamic State militants after being injured in an airstrike and taken to a hospital controlled by the group.
“After I recovered, they wouldn’t let me leave,” he told Fairfax.
He won the militants’ trust by working as a medic and was able to escape to Turkey in December.
Brookman told Fairfax that he opposed the violent and extreme actions of the militants, including the beheading of their captives.
“Of course there will be an investigation. That is fine. Hopefully things don’t look that bad,” Brookman told Fairfax.
It is not clear whether Brookman was still in Syria on Dec. 4, when Australia made a presence in the Islamic State stronghold of al-Raqqa province in Syria a crime punishable by 10 years in prison. If charged, the onus would be on Brookman to prove he had a legitimate reason to be in the terrorist hotspot.
Supporting a terrorist organization is a crime that carries a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison.
MEXICO CITY (AP) — A federal judge in Mexico has opened a court proceeding against three prison employees on charges they aided in the escape of drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, authorities said Friday.
In a statement, the Federal Judiciary Council said the legal process would advance in the cases of three of the seven originally arrested in relation to Guzman’s July 11 escape from a maximum-security prison.
It said prosecutors showed there was sufficient evidence that the employees favored Guzman’s escape through a one-mile long tunnel.
It described the employees as the person in charge of the prison’s video surveillance control center and two guards. There were inconsistencies in the supervisor’s statements and there was no explanation for why the guards did not answer the telephone in their module.
The Council also said that, at least for now, it was determined there was no cause to hold for prosecution the other four people detained in connection with the escape.
An official at the Federal Prosecutor’s Office who was not authorized to discuss the matter and insisted on anonymity said prosecutors were considering their next step, including a possible appeal.
MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Chris Brown finally left the Philippines and performed at a night club in Macau, but not without last-minute complications at the end of a three-day ordeal.
The 26-year-old R&B artist sang at a packed concert in Manila on Tuesday, then wasn’t able to leave because a fraud complaint was filed against him and a promoter for a canceled concert last New Year’s Eve.
In a series of social media postings during the delay, most of them since deleted, he said “I’ve done nothing wrong,” expressed frustration over being stranded and pleaded to be allowed to leave.
Late Friday afternoon, Brown was able to obtain a departure clearance from the Immigration Bureau.
Before boarding his private jet, he invited Filipinos to join him in a party in Macau.
“Manila, it was fun. I love y’all, man. If you can come to Macau, party tonight! Turn up,” he said in a video posted on Instagram.
But once the group boarded, a three-hour wait followed because of a flight plan discrepancy.
They took off at 9:04 p.m. for Hong Kong, the Philippines’ Civil Aviation Authority spokesman Eric Apolonio said. He said that Brown’s original approved flight plan had Hong Kong as its destination and wasn’t revised for unclear reasons.
During the delay, Brown missed a concert in Hong Kong that has not yet been rescheduled.
In a later Instagram video, Brown called Macau “popping” in apparent celebration of his arrival.
He said he returned to Manila to make up for the canceled New Year’s Eve concert. The initial performance was to be at the 55,000-seat Philippine Arena, operated by a corporation owned by the politically influential Iglesia ni Cristo religious group.
In its complaint, the Maligaya Development Corp. alleged Brown and promoter John Michael Pio Roda canceled after being paid in full for a $1 million contract. The organizers said they were told at the time that Brown lost his passport and couldn’t make the concert.
Immigration Commissioner Siegfred Mison said late Friday that Pio Roda was held at a bureau detention center because a complaint against him alleges he was working in the country without a permit and absconded or ran away from his debt.
Because of that, Brown was required to obtain a departure clearance.
In a tweet since deleted, Brown said: “This is a very serious situation and someone needs to be held accountable for mixing my name up in all this.”
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said state prosecutors will summon Brown for a preliminary investigation into the complaint, but his presence at that stage of the criminal proceedings can be waived. Charges will be filed in court if prosecutors find probable cause to charge Brown and the promoter.
“What is important at this point is for him to know that there are criminal proceedings against him at the preliminary investigation level,” De Lima told reporters.
NEW YORK (AP) — Even as TV watchers increasingly go online, AT&T has become the country’s biggest traditional TV provider with its $48.5 billion purchase of DirecTV.
It got its regulatory approval Friday from the Federal Communications Commission after more than a year. The Justice Department had already cleared the deal on Tuesday.
AT&T Inc. now has 26.4 million cable and satellite TV subscribers.
That’s more than Comcast as well as a bigger Charter, which is seeking government approval to buy Time Warner Cable.
Suppliers of TV are buying one another as video from Internet competitors like Netflix gets more popular and costs rise for channels.
Adding TV customers gives AT&T more power to negotiate with big media companies over prices for those channels.
The deal also combines a nationwide satellite TV service, the country’s largest, with the No. 2 nationwide wireless network as time spent on mobile devices increases. DirecTV also has 19.5 million customers in Latin America, where AT&T wants to grow.
“We’ll now be able to meet consumers’ future entertainment preferences, whether they want traditional TV service with premier programming, their favorite content on a mobile device, or video streamed over the Internet to any screen,” said AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson in a statement.
What could change for customers? AT&T said that it will launch new TV, Internet and mobile phone bundles in the coming weeks.
AT&T’s purchase of DirecTV was approved even as Comcast’s bid for Time Warner Cable, which would have made the country’s biggest cable company even more massive, was blocked. The AT&T deal did not trigger the same fears from consumer advocates because the company wouldn’t contain an entertainment division like Comcast’s NBCUniversal and wouldn’t gain Internet customers, considered the future of the industry, by buying DirecTV.
The FCC repeated Friday that it had set certain requirements for the merger, which it had disclosed on Tuesday when the head of the agency announced his support for the deal.
Among these are that AT&T has to expand a fiber network that can handle fast Internet speeds to 12.5 million possible customers, which it says compensates for the loss of a video option in markets where AT&T’s U-verse cable service had competed with DirecTV’s satellite TV service. The agency said the fiber network requirement will help Internet video competitors reach customers.
AT&T said Friday that including that 12.5 million requirement, its all-fiber Internet network will reach more than 14 million potential subscribers. Analyst Craig Moffett of MoffettNathanson had said before the deal’s close was announced that AT&T would probably build the fiber in markets where it already operates a slower Internet network.
“In terms of increasing competition, AT&T has been claiming that bundling with DirecTV will help it compete better with cable. I think that is incrementally the case in some limited set of markets,” said John Bergmayer, a senior staff attorney with public-interest group Public Knowledge.
Another way the agency wants to try to promote video competition is by forbidding AT&T to make a potential online video service of its own not eat up data under the cap imposed by the company on its home Internet customers. If AT&T did that, it could make its own service more appealing compared with Netflix, for example, because streaming Netflix would count toward the data cap and potentially could trigger additional fees if a customer went over the cap.
AT&T also has to offer home Internet to low-income customers without making them buy phone or TV service too. AT&T said that it will offer Internet to households that qualify for food stamps for $10 a month or less. The speed available will be 10 megabits per second or slower, less than the 25 Mbps the FCC has set as the benchmark for high-speed Internet.
The FCC said there will be an independent compliance officer to monitor how AT&T abides by these conditions.
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — A former Canadian law enforcement officer who was in charge when police used an electroshock weapon on a Polish immigrant, causing his death, was sentenced Friday to a two-year jail term for perjury during a public inquiry into the incident.
Former corporal Benjamin Robinson was found guilty of perjury in March, with a court ruling that he colluded with four fellow officers to make up testimony during an inquiry into Robert Dziekanski’s death in 2007. The British Columbia Supreme Court ruled Friday to send Robinson to prison for two years.
Justice Nathan Smith said during the sentencing that perjury strikes at the heart of the justice system, which can’t function if there is a suggestion the evidence police give is false.
Robinson, who was led away in handcuffs, also must serve one year probation and perform 240 hours of community work.
All four officers involved in the case were tried separately. Robinson was found guilty along with Const. Kwesi Millington, who was given a 30-month prison sentence in June. He has since been granted bail while he appeals the conviction. The two other officers involved were acquitted.
The four officers went to Vancouver’s airport on Oct. 14, 2007, after Dziekanski, who spoke no English, started throwing furniture.
Within seconds of their arrival, Dziekanski was jolted several times with a Taser and died on the floor of the arrivals terminal.
The prosecution claimed during the trial that the officers concocted a story to give to homicide investigators and then lied to the public inquiry to explain why their first statements didn’t match with the amateur video that was released.
During his sentencing hearing, Smith said that all the officers made similar mistakes, including their incorrect claim that Dziekanski was wrestled to the ground. The judge said the only explanation was that the Mounties worked together on their stories.
RABAT, Morocco (AP) — Some 100 Moroccan journalists and activists demonstrated Friday in front of the parliament in solidarity with an editor on a monthlong hunger strike over his treatment by the government.
Ali Mrabet, editor of DemainOnline, has been on a hunger strike in front of Geneva’s Palais des Nations since June 24 over what he is calling government harassment preventing him from working.
Omar Brouksy, a journalist at the demonstration, said Mrabet was being targeted for his outspoken criticism of the state but also it was an attack on journalists in general despite a reformist constitution and public commitment to press freedoms.
“The problem with Morocco is the flagrant incoherence between the laws and the official discourse, on one hand, and the reality, which is very repressive,” he said.
Morocco, a popular tourist destination, is generally considered more stable and open than its North African neighbors, but it still ranks low on press freedom indexes.
Mrabet was banned by a judge from practicing journalism for a decade. During that time he published the French-language DemainOnline, which was critical of the state and often poked fun at it.
When the ban expired in April, he announced plans to bring back the print version of his weekly. Since then he said he has been repeatedly harassed and authorities refuse to issue him a certificate of residence so he cannot renew his identity card, passport or set up his newspaper.
Most of Morocco’s print and broadcast media now strictly follow official red lines — avoiding criticism of the king, the country’s policies in the Western Sahara or Islam.
Many independent-minded journalists have gone online instead, but in 2014, news website Lakome.com was shut down after its editor was briefly charged with abetting terrorism by writing about an al-Qaida video.