Archives
  • iStock/Thinkstock(KIEV, Ukraine) -- The Russian journalist who staged his own death in a sting operation with Ukrainian authorities has described how he was smeared with pig’s blood and taken to a morgue as part of the spectacular effort that he said was necessary to thwart a Russian plot to kill him.The reporter, Arkady Babchenko, revealed the details of the operation to reporters in Ukraine's capital, Kiev on Thursday, a day after Ukraine's SBU spy agency announced that Babchenko's apparent killing was in fact an elaborate ruse."I only stopped being afraid at the morgue," he said.Speaking on Thursday, Babchenko described how the operation had involved staging every step of an actual assassination. On Tuesday, Ukraine’s police said that Babchenko had been shot dead in his apartment building, saying his wife had found him covered in blood with multiple gunshot wounds. She called an ambulance, and he was declared dead before reaching the hospital. A photograph appeared in Ukrainian social media showing Babchenko’s "corpse," lying in a pool of blood with three bullet-holes in his back, while police released a sketch of a supposed 'suspect'.On Thursday Babchenko said that he and Ukraine’s police had simulated every step of that. First, he said a make-up artist arrived at his house and he began practicing falling down. “It was all real. I made that shirt with bullet holes in it and I laid on the floor. They have poured blood over me, I took some of it in my mouth and let it out,” Babchenko said.His wife, who Babchenko said had been in on the deception, pretended to then find him dying and called an ambulance. Real paramedics arrived and carried him to the ambulance which drove to the hospital, reporting that Babchenko had died on the way. He said a doctor had then recorded his death and he had been transported to the morgue.“I was lying there pretending that I was the murder victim, like a dead person. They came to the morgue, they put me on the tray, the doors were closed behind me and then I was resurrected. I turned on the TV. I sat down and watched news of my ‘murder’."He said he was then taken to a secure location, with the whole operation lasting until 5 a.m. Until the last moment, he said, he had feared the operation would fall apart.Babchenko’s "killing" was taken as real by his friends and colleagues, and around the world. Obituaries were written and posthumous tributes flooded Russian newspapers for  the reporter, who is known as war correspondent and uncompromising critic of the Kremlin. Foreign officials expressed their condolences and there was demands that the killers be found.Just under 24 hours later he reappeared, dumbfounding reporters as he walked into a press conference.Smiling slightly and shrugging, he apologized to his wife and colleagues, saying the deception had been necessary to save his life and to catch the real plotters. Ukraine’s SBU security services said two men, one of whom was allegedly paid $40,000 by Russian spies, were arrested as part of the sting. The SBU said the operation also caught the Kremlin red-handed in its efforts to assassinate opponents in Ukraine.Ukraine though has faced criticism since over the extreme method. Critics said it posed a threat to media credibility and played into the hands of the Kremlin which has regularly sought to claim attacks on its opponents have been staged. “It was distressing and regrettable that the Ukrainian police played with the truth,” Christophe Deloire, the head of Reporters Without Borders, a group that campaigns for journalists’ rights, said in a statement. "Was such a scheme really necessary? There can be no grounds for faking a journalist’s death.”Many of Babchenko's colleagues, expressing delight at his survival, had said it was cut with confusion and doubt about whether the exotic method had been necessary.Babchenko “has emerged from the g
    Read more...
  • iStock/Thinkstock(PYONGYANG, North Korea) -- President Donald Trump signaled Thursday that it’s very likely a delegation of North Korean officials “will probably be coming down” to Washington on Friday to hand-deliver a letter to him from Kim Jong Un.Trump said he doesn’t know what the letter will say, but said he thinks “it’ll be very positive.”Trump cautioned that while he hopes a planned summit in Singapore on June 12 between the U.S. and North Korea is still in the cards, he wants it to be a “meaningful” meeting.“That doesn't mean it gets all done at one meeting. Maybe you have to have a second or a third, and maybe we'll have none. But it's in good hands -- that I can tell you,” Trump said.Trump made the remarks ahead of a day trip to Dallas, where he plans to attend private fundraisers and meet with the families of the Santa Fe High School shooting victims.Less than a week after the president "canceled" the summit in a dramatic letter, there's been a flurry of activity between the two countries to make it happen again. There was never an official "back on" message, but Trump tweeted Tuesday that his letter got a "solid response."The point person for U.S. preparations, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, met with Kim Yong Chol, a top adviser to Kim Jong Un and vice chairman of the Central Committee, on Wednesday. It's the third meeting between the two men, after Pompeo's two trips to Pyongyang in as many months.North Korea has denied any interest in U.S. economic assistance, only in ending international sanctions. And on Thursday, the real challenge of negotiating differences begins with a full day of meetings between the two delegations.Kim Yong Chol is the regime's former spy chief and reportedly behind some of its most malicious behavior, including assassination attempts in South Korea, the sinking of a South Korean navy ship and the Sony hack. He is currently under U.S. sanctions, so the U.S. had to grant him a special waiver to travel to New York.
    Read more...
  • iStock/Thinkstock(ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.) -- A transgender woman who was a part of a migrant caravan that arrived at the southern border of the U.S. earlier this month has died in custody.Roxana Hernandez traveled with the group of migrants from Mexico beginning in late March and was later transferred to an immigration detention center in New Mexico.Hernandez, a Honduras national, died in the Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in Albuquerque on May 25.Her death was confirmed in a statement from three groups that organized the caravan, as well as from ICE, though the government agency referred to her using what was likely her legal name, Jeffry Hernandez.    Hernandez arrived at the San Ysidro port of entry on May 9 and was held "in the dreaded 'icebox' -- holding cells with extremely low temperatures" for five days, according to a joint statement from three caravan groups."During her first week in the United States, Roxy’s body and spirit quickly deteriorated," the statement said.ICE said in its statement that she was admitted to a hospital on May 17 with symptoms of pneumonia, dehydration and complications associated with HIV before being airlifted to Lovelace Medical Center. She remained in intensive care until her death on May 25, ICE said.The caravan organizers said her death was due to a lack of care from U.S. officials."Roxy died due to medical negligence by U.S. immigration authorities," the groups' statement said. "Roxy died in the country she had sought to start a new life in. She died for being a transgender woman, a migrant who was treated neither with respect nor with dignity."ICE notes in its statement that Hernandez illegally entered the U.S. three times, and had theft, immoral conduct and prostitution convictions from incidents in Dallas in 2006 and 2009.Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
    Read more...
  • iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced Thursday morning that the U.S. will move forward in implementing steel and aluminum tariffs against the E.U., Canada and Mexico that were unveiled this past March, rather than extending a Friday deadline that had exempted allies from the tariffs.The move follows a breakdown in talks the Trump administration’s economic team held with European partners in Paris this week, and threatens to potentially roil global markets and trickle down to American companies and consumers if the countries carry through with threats of retaliatory actions."He has decided in the case of Canada, Mexico and the European Union not to extend the exemptions, and therefore they will be placed under the 25 percent tariff on steel and the 10 percent tariff on aluminum effective midnight tonight,” Ross told reporters in a morning conference call.Ross explained that the previous extension for Canada and Mexico was specifically due to ongoing NAFTA talks, but that “those talks had been taking longer than we had hoped” and there’s no longer a precise date of when a deal may be reached.Despite retaliatory threats from allies, however, Ross insisted that reaching deals with Canada, Mexico and European partners should not be put on hold just because the U.S. is moving forward with implementing the stiff tariffs.The European Union has previously said that if Trump moved forward with his threat, then the EU could in turn slap tariffs on products such as peanut butter, orange juice and other goods.“If any of these parties does retaliate, that does not mean there cannot be continuing negotiations,” Ross said.The move is also likely to further rankle Trump’s already-strained relationship with Europe in the wake of his withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal.According to news reports, French President Emmanuel Macron alluded to Trump’s leadership style directly in slamming the pending tariffs in a Wednesday speech.“These solutions might bring symbolic satisfaction in the short term," Macron said. "One can think about making voters happy by saying, ‘I have a victory. I’ll change the rules, you’ll see.’”Ross said Argentina, Australia and Brazil will continue to be exempt from the tariffs, though there have been “limitations” implemented on the volume of steel and aluminum they can ship to the U.S.And despite the picking and choosing of which allies that the U.S. decides to slap with these tariffs, Ross defended the U.S. legal justification that they are being implemented under law intended to protect U.S. national security.“Without a strong economy, you can’t have strong national security,” Ross said.Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
    Read more...
  • ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Former CIA Director Michael Hayden said he is unsure President Trump has “done the homework needed” for negotiations with North Korea over its nuclear program.“Kim Jong Un knows his program inside and out,” Hayden told ABC News Global Correspondent and This Week Co-Anchor Martha Raddatz on Sunday. “I think he knows what he can concede and what it means and what he cannot concede.”“I don't know that the president has done the kind of homework that would allow him to do this” in negotiations, said Hayden, who headed the CIA under presidents George W. Bush and Obama, and who also served as director of the National Security Agency under both Bush and President Clinton.Hayden said he hopes any summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un "stays at the level of principles" rather than delving into specifics. “They talk about denuclearization, allow each side to kind of cower within the ambiguity of denuclearization, and then seriously begin a process that makes the peninsula less dangerous than it is today.”The former intelligence official also discussed his concern that demanding that North Korea entirely give up its nuclear program could end "in a very bad place."Hayden said he agrees with Republican Sen. Marco Rubio's comment during his earlier appearance on This Week Sunday that Kim Jong Un is not going to denuclearize."I totally agree with Sen. Rubio," Hayden said. "These folks are not going to get rid of all their nuclear weapons. And if President Trump's 'brand' -- and that's the right word here -- going into this meeting demands something like that, this is going to end up in a very bad place."
    Read more...