Islamic State leader Baghdadi ‘may have been killed by Russia’ — Russia investigation: Mike Pence hires personal legal counsel — Ex-Panama president, shackled in Miami court — Telegram founder: U.S. intelligence agencies tried to bribe us to weaken encryption

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi seen delivering a sermon in 2014

Islamic State leader Baghdadi ‘may have been killed by Russia’ — BBC

Russia’s defence ministry is investigating whether one of its air strikes in Syria killed the leader of the Islamic State militant group (IS).

The ministry said an air strike may have killed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and up to 330 other fighters on 28 May.

It said the raid had targeted a meeting of the IS military council in the group’s de-facto capital of Raqqa, in northern Syria.

There have been a number of previous reports of Baghdadi’s death.

This is the first time, however, that Russia has said it may have killed the IS leader. Other media reports have previously claimed he had been killed or critically injured by US-led coalition air strikes.

 A statement by Russia’s defence ministry published by the state-funded Sputnik news agency said 30 IS commanders and up to 300 soldiers were at the Raqqa meeting.

“According to information that is checked through various channels, IS leader Ibrahim Abu-Bakr al-Baghdadi, who was killed as a result of the strike, was also present at the meeting,” it added.

Colonel John Dorrian, a spokesman for the US-led coalition, said the US could not confirm whether Baghdadi had been killed.

Russia investigation: Mike Pence hires personal legal counsel  — Guardian

Vice president Mike Pence has hired outside legal counsel to oversee his response to investigations into possible collusion between Russia and president Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign.

Pence’s office confirmed on Thursday that he retained Richard Cullen, chairman of McGuireWoods LLP, to assist him in responding to inquiries by special counsel Robert Mueller.

Cullen previously served as Virginia attorney general and US attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. He also served as special counsel to Virginia senator Paul Trible during the Iran-Contra investigation and was a member of former President George W. Bush’s legal team during the 2000 Florida recount, according to his official biography.

Aides said the vice president had considered several candidates before settling on Cullen and made his final decision earlier this week. They declined to say what had sparked Pence’s decision to hire an outside lawyer and referred all questions concerning the Russia investigation to Cullen’s office. The law firm referred questions back to the vice president’s office.

The news of Cullen’s hiring was first reported by the Washington Post.

Pence’s decision comes several weeks after the president hired his longtime personal attorney, Marc Kasowitz, to handle Russia-related inquiries.

Mueller and congressional committees are investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election and possible connections with Trump’s campaign.

Ex-Panama president, shackled in Miami court — Miami Herald

A former Panamanian president appeared in Miami federal court on Tuesday arguing that an effort to extradite him was part of a smear campaign by political foes to prevent him from seeking the nation’s top office again.

An attorney representing Ricardo Martinelli, who was arrested Monday night after living in Miami for the past two and a half years, challenged charges leveled by the Panamanian government that more than $13 million intended for a poverty program had been diverted to pay for a secret surveillance operation that Martinelli used to spy on his political opponents.

“It’s being instigated by his current opponent [Panamanian President Juan Carlos] Varela,” said Marcos Jimenez, Martinelli’s lawyer. Jimenez questioned the timing of the arrest on an extradition complaint, which he said came after Martinelli declared his intentions to run for a second presidential term.

Jimenez also asked that Martinelli be released on bond and placed under house arrest while awaiting a final decision by U.S. courts on Panama’s extradition request. He noted that Colombia’s former agriculture minister, Andrés Felipe Arias Leiva, now living in Weston, received a $1 million bond last year while fighting extradition on corruption charges in his homeland.

Telegram founder: U.S. intelligence agencies tried to bribe us to weaken encryption — FC

Pavel Durov, the Russian founder of the popular secure messaging app Telegram has revealed in a series of tweets that U.S. intelligence agencies tried twice to bribe the company’s developers to weaken encryption in the app, presumably so it would be easier for the agencies to obtain communications sent via its users. Durov also says he was pressured by the FBI to do so.



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