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Suspect arrested on hate-crime charges in NYC attack on Filipino American woman

A man was arrested on hate-crime and assault charges after a Filipino American woman was attacked near New York City’s Times Square, police said early Wednesday.

Police said Brandon Elliot, 38, is the man seen on video kicking and stomping the woman on Monday. They said Elliot was living at a hotel that serves as a homeless shelter a few blocks from the scene of the attack.

He was taken into custody at the hotel around midnight. Tips from the public led to his apprehension, police said.

Elliot was convicted of stabbing his mother to death in the Bronx neighbourhood in 2002, when he was 19. He was released from prison in 2019 and is on lifetime parole. The parole board had previously twice denied his release. His record also included an arrest for robbery in 2000.

“When you’re releasing people from prison and you’re putting them in homeless shelters you’re asking for trouble,” NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea told WPIX-TV. “There’s got to be a safety net and there’s got to be resources for them…. You just shake your head and say, ‘What could possibly go wrong’ and this is what goes wrong. It just never should happen.”

Elliot faces charges of assault as a hate crime, attempted assault as a hate crime, assault and attempted assault in Monday’s attack, police said. It wasn’t immediately known whether he had a lawyer who could speak on his behalf. He was expected to be arraigned by video Wednesday.


Police said Brandon Elliot, 38, is the man seen on surveillance video attacking the woman outside an apartment building near New York City’s Times Square. (Courtesy of New York Police Department/The Associated Press)

Victim suffered serious injuries

The victim was identified as Vilma Kari, a 65-year-old woman who immigrated from the Philippines, her daughter told the New York Times. The newspaper did not identify Kari’s daughter.

Kari was walking to church in midtown Manhattan when police said a man kicked her in the stomach, knocked her to the ground, stomped on her face, shouted anti-Asian slurs and told her, “You don’t belong here,” before casually walking away.

She was discharged from the hospital Tuesday after being treated for serious injuries, a hospital spokesperson said.

The attack was among the latest in a national spike in anti-Asian hate crimes and happened just weeks after a mass shooting in Atlanta that left eight people dead, six of them women of Asian descent.


Jo-Ann Yoo, executive director of the Asian American Federation, cries after speaking on Tuesday at a news conference with politicians and community activists outside the building where the attack happened. (Kena Betancur/AFP/Getty Images)

The surge in violence has been linked in part to misplaced blame for the coronavirus pandemic and former president Donald Trump’s use of racially charged terms such as “Chinese virus” and “China virus.”

Bystanders criticized

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called Monday’s attack “absolutely disgusting and outrageous.” He said it was “absolutely unacceptable” that witnesses did not intervene.

“I don’t care who you are, I don’t care what you do, you’ve got to help your fellow New Yorker,” de Blasio said Tuesday.

Mayoral candidate Andrew Yang, the son of Taiwanese immigrants, said the victim “could easily have been my mother.” He, too, criticized the bystanders, saying their inaction was “exactly the opposite of what we need here in New York City.”

WATCH | De Blasio, Yang respond to ‘horrifying’ attack:

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and mayoral candidate Andrew Yang react to the violent attack on a 65-year-old Filipino American woman that was caught on a security camera. 1:06

The attack happened late Monday morning outside a luxury apartment building two blocks from Times Square.

Two workers inside the building who appeared to be security guards were seen on surveillance video witnessing the attack but failing to come to the woman’s aid. One of them was seen closing the building door as the woman was on the ground. The attacker was able to casually walk away while onlookers watched, the video showed.

The building’s management company said the workers were suspended pending an investigation. The workers’ union said they called for help immediately.

Residents of the building defended the workers Wednesday in a letter to the management company and the media. They contend that a video clip focusing on the suspect and the assault was “unfortunately cut to inadvertently exclude the compassionate action” taken by staff members, which they said included giving the victim aid and alerting medics.

Philippine government reacts

Philippine Ambassador to the U.S. Jose Manuel Romualdez said the victim is Filipino American.

The country’s foreign secretary, Teodoro Locsin Jr., condemned the attack in a Twitter post, saying: “This is gravely noted and will influence Philippine foreign policy.”

Locsin did not elaborate how the attack could influence Philippine policy toward the United States. The countries are longtime treaty allies, and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is a vocal critic of U.S. security policies who has moved to terminate a key agreement that allows large-scale military exercises with American forces in the Philippines.

“I might as well say it, so no one on the other side can say, ‘We didn’t know you took racial brutality against Filipinos at all seriously.’ We do,” Locsin said.

Increase in hate crimes 

This year in New York City, there have been 33 hate crimes with an Asian victim as of Sunday, police said. There were 11 such attacks by the same time last year.

On Friday, in the same neighbourhood as Monday’s attack, a 65-year-old Asian American woman was accosted by a man waving an unknown object and shouting anti-Asian insults. A 48-year-old man was arrested the next day and charged with menacing. He is not suspected in Monday’s attack.


A man looks at two police officers patrolling along a busy section of Main Street in Flushing, a largely Asian American neighborhood, in the Queens borough of New York on Tuesday. Police have stepped up patrols across the city. (Kathy Willens/The Associated Press)

The NYPD last week said it was increasing outreach and patrols in predominantly Asian communities, including the use of undercover officers to prevent and disrupt attacks.

“This is crucial to the equation,” de Blasio said of the new policing efforts. “It’s a very few people but we need to find each and every one of them and stop this.”

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Man arrested in Capitol Hill attack was reportedly bodyguard for Trump confidant Roger Stone

Two men wanted in the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol were arrested over the weekend, including one who reportedly served as a bodyguard to former president Donald Trump’s longtime political confidant Roger Stone, federal authorities said Monday.

Roberto Minuta breached the Capitol grounds and “aggressively berated and taunted U.S. Capitol police officers” during the Jan. 6 insurrection, the FBI said in court papers.

Also arrested over the weekend was Isaac Steve Sturgeon, 32, of Dillon, Mont., who is charged with shoving a metal police barricade into police officers during the insurrection, according to court records.

Meanwhile, Jacob Chansley, the Phoenix man who sported face paint, no shirt and a furry hat with horns while inside the Capitol during the siege, will remain jailed until trial, a judge in Washington ruled Monday.

U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth explained that Chansley carried a spear into the Capitol, ignored orders from police to leave, used a bullhorn to encourage other rioters and was among the first rioters into the building.


Jacob Chansley is pictured inside the Senate chamber after the U.S. Capitol was breached Jan. 6, 2021. Chansley was denied bail after a judge ruled he was unlikely to follow release conditions. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Oath Keepers provided illegal ‘freelance security’: lawyer 

Chansley doesn’t fully appreciate the severity of the charges against him, Lamberth said. The judge said he has no faith that Chansley would follow release conditions.

At least five people, including a Capitol Police officer, died as a result of the violence at the Capitol, and two other officers took their own lives in the days after. More than 300 people have been charged with federal crimes.

Minuta, 36, of Hackettstown, N.J., had been “equipped with military-style attire and gear, including apparel emblazoned with a crest related to the Oath Keepers,” the FBI said, referring to the far-right antigovernment militia.

The New York Times identified Minuta as one of six people who provided security to Stone in the hours before the assault on the Capitol. Stone, who was pardoned after his sentence for several felony charges was initially commuted by Trump, was in Washington the day of the assault but has denied any involvement.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Benjamin Gianforti told a magistrate judge in White Plains federal court that Minuta was among Oath Keepers who illegally provided freelance security in Washington for “various high-profile individuals who I won’t name.”

Minuta, who was arrested at his tattoo shop in Newburgh, N.Y., told federal agents “something to the effect of: ‘Why am I being targeted here? Why aren’t you going after Antifa and Black Lives Matter members?”‘ Gianforti said.

The prosecutor said the statements suggest “a lack of remorse for his actions and an ongoing allegiance to the ideology that led him to break the law.”

He accused Minuta of “screaming at Capitol Police officers on Jan. 6 and indeed spitting at their feet, which is one of the most disrespectful gestures that one can do.”

Gianforti said Minuta had cancelled his phone account on March 1 and gotten rid of his iPhone while moving between a Texas dwelling and his New York business.


Insurrectionists loyal to Donald Trump try to open a door of the U.S. Capitol as they riot in Washington on Jan. 6. The charges against Minuta say he entered the Capitol forcefully. (Jose Luis Magana/The Associated Press)

Ben Gold, Minuta’s court-appointed attorney, said his client was not violent on Jan. 6. A magistrate judge agreed, letting him be freed on $ 150,000 US bail despite the prosecutor’s request he be held as a danger to the community and risk to flee.

“He’s not a flight risk. He’s not a danger to the community,” Gold said.

The lawyer said a criminal complaint describing the charges says Minuta entered the Capitol forcefully, but yet the description afterward “doesn’t say he used an ounce of force.”

Authorities said Sturgeon, the Montana man, was identified through police body camera video and photographs posted to social media.

The FBI said Sturgeon, who owns a lawn care business, traveled to Kenya on Jan. 24 and was deported from that country to New York. He was arrested Saturday at John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Sturgeon told a federal magistrate Monday he “wasn’t trying to flee,” adding he’s a frequent traveller.

His defence attorney declined to comment on the charges.

Prosecutors said Sturgeon faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

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Wife of drug kingpin El Chapo arrested on U.S. drug charges

The wife of Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, whom U.S. law enforcement officials accuse of helping plot her husband’s daring escape from a Mexico prison in 2015, was arrested Monday at an airport in Virginia on international drug-trafficking charges, the U.S. Justice Department said.

Emma Coronel Aispuro, 31, who is a dual citizen of the U.S. and Mexico, was arrested at Dulles International Airport and is expected to appear in federal court in Washington on Tuesday.

She is charged in a single-count criminal complaint with conspiracy to distribute cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin and marijuana in the U.S.

The Justice Department also accuses her of helping her husband escape from a Mexican prison in 2015 and participating in the planning of a second prison escape before Guzman was extradited to the U.S. in January 2017.

Coronel Aispuro remained in custody, and it was not immediately clear if she had an attorney who could comment on the allegations.

Guzman, Mexico’s most powerful drug lord, escaped through an opening under the shower in his cell leading to a 1.6-kilometre-long lighted tunnel with a motorcycle on rails. The planning for the escape was extensive, prosecutors say, with his wife playing a key role.

Court papers charge that Coronel Aispuro worked with Guzman’s sons and a witness, who is now co-operating with the U.S. government, to organize the construction of the underground tunnel that Guzman used to escape from the Altiplano prison in Mexico to prevent him from being extradited to the U.S.

The plot included purchasing a piece of land near the prison, firearms and an armoured truck and smuggling him a GPS watch so they could “pinpoint his exact whereabouts so as to construct the tunnel with an entry point accessible to him,” the court papers say.


Coronel Aispuro is accused of helping her husband, Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman, escape from prison in 2015. (Henry Romero/Reuters)

Guzman was sentenced to life behind bars in 2019. His Sinaloa cartel was responsible for smuggling mountains of cocaine and other drugs into the United States under his 25-year leasdership, prosecutors said in recent court papers. They also said his “army of sicarios,” or “hit men,” was under orders to kidnap, torture and kill anyone who got in his way.

Coronel Aispuro, a former teen beauty queen, regularly attended Guzman’s trial, even when testimony cast her in a harsh light. The two, separated in age by more than 30 years, have been together since at least 2007 and have twin daughters, who were born in 2011.

Her father, Ines Coronel Barreras, was arrested in Mexico in 2013 with one of his sons and several other men in a warehouse with hundreds of pounds of marijuana across the border from Douglas, Ariz. Months earlier, the U.S. Treasury had announced financial sanctions against Coronel Barreras for his alleged drug trafficking.

After Guzman was re-arrested following his escape, Coronel Aispuro lobbied the Mexican government to improve her husband’s prison conditions. And after he was convicted in 2019, she moved to launch a clothing line in his name.

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Many arrested as Haiti president alleges coup conspiracy, assassination attempt

Haitian President Jovenel Moise announced Sunday that police have arrested more than 20 people he accused of trying to kill him and overthrow his government, including a Supreme Court judge who has the support of opposition leaders demanding that Moise step down.

Moise spoke at Haiti’s airport in Port-au-Prince, flanked by the country’s prime minister and the police chief as he prepared to leave for the southern coastal town of Jacmel for the opening ceremony of its yearly carnival, which is being held amid the pandemic.

“There was an attempt on my life,” he said.

Moise said the alleged plot began on Nov. 20 but did not provide further details or any evidence except to say among the people arrested is a judge and an inspector general with the police. Moise then said other high-ranking officials would provide more information but they all walked away and did not speak further to reporters.

Prime Minister Joseph Joute said later in the day Sunday that authorities found several weapons and a speech that Supreme Court Judge Yvickel Dabrezil had allegedly prepared if he were to become provisional president. Dabrezil is one of three judges that the opposition favours as a potential transitional president.


A person sets up a burning barricade during a protest to demand Moise’s resignation in Port-au-Prince on Sunday. (Dieu Nalio Chery/The Associated Press)

Meanwhile, Justice Minister Rockefeller Vincent accused the inspector general of being in touch with high-ranking security officials at the National Palace over an alleged plot to have the president arrested.

Andre Michel, one of Haiti’s top opposition leaders, held a press conference hours after the arrests and called for civil disobedience and demanded that Moise be arrested. Michel, an attorney, said it was illegal to arrest Dabrezil because he has automatic immunity.

Reynold Georges, an attorney who once worked as a consultant for Moise’s administration but has since joined the opposition, denounced the arrests in an interview with radio station Zenith FM.

“We ask for his release immediately,” he said of Irvikel Dabresil, the Supreme Court judge who is being detained, adding that the court system should shut down until he’s free.


Police detain a person during protests against Moise in Port-au-Prince on Sunday. (Jeanty Junior Augustin/Reuters)

Georges also called on people to rise up against Moise.

Also arrested was Police General Inspector Antoinette Gauthier, according to a statement from the Young Bar Association of Port-au-Prince, which accused Moise’s administration of sowing terror and said Sunday’s actions should not be tolerated.

The arrests come on the day that opposition leaders claim Moise should resign, saying that his term ends on Sunday. Moise has repeatedly stated that his five-year term ends in February 2022. Former President Michel Martelly’s term ended in 2016, but a chaotic election forced the appointment of a provisional president for one year until Moise was sworn in in 2017.

The opposition has organized recent protests demanding that Moise step down, and normally congested streets in Haiti’s capital and elsewhere remained empty on Sunday as a handful of demonstrators burned tires.

Meanwhile, Moise appears to have the support of the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden. Ned Price, a U.S. State Department spokesperson, said Friday that the U.S. has urged Haiti to organize free and fair elections so that Parliament can resume operations, adding that a new elected president should succeed Moise when his terms ends in February 2022.


Demonstrators burn a U.S. flag during anti-Moise protests in Port-au-Prince on Sunday. (Jeanty Junior Augustin/Reuters)

Moise is currently ruling by decree after dissolving a majority of Parliament in January 2020 after no legislative elections were held. He is planning an upcoming constitutional referendum in April that critics say could award him more power, while general elections are scheduled for later this year.

After arriving in Jacmel, Moise broadcast an address that lasted more than an hour. He spoke largely about the infrastructure projects that his administration has accomplished, but also called on the opposition to work with him.

“It’s not too late,” he said, rejecting accusations that he is on his way to becoming a dictator. “I’m not a dictator. Dictators are people who take power and don’t know when they’re leaving. I know my mandate ends on Feb. 7, 2022.”

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Alexei Navalny’s wife among thousands arrested at anti-Kremlin protests

Police detained more than 2,500 people and used force to break up rallies across Russia on Saturday as tens of thousands of protesters ignored extreme cold and police warnings to demand the release of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.

Navalny had called on his supporters to protest after being arrested last weekend as he returned to Russia from Germany for the first time since being poisoned with a nerve agent he says was applied to his underpants by state security agents in August.

The authorities had warned people to stay away from Saturday’s protests, saying they were at risk from COVID-19, as well as prosecution and possible jail time for attending an unauthorized event.

But protesters defied the ban and, in at least one case in temperatures below –50 C, turned out in force. Leonid Volkov, a Navalny ally, called on them to do the same next weekend to try to free Navalny from what he called “the clutches of his killers.”

In central Moscow, where Reuters reporters estimated at least 40,000 people had gathered in one of the biggest unauthorized rallies in years, police were seen roughly detaining people, bundling them into nearby vans.


Law enforcement officers push people during a rally in support of jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny in Moscow on Saturday. (Maxim Shemetov/Reuters)

The authorities said just some 4,000 people had shown up, while the Foreign Affairs Ministry questioned a crowd estimate from Reuters.

“Why not just immediately say 4 million?” it suggested sarcastically on its official Telegram messenger channel.

Ivan Zhdanov, a Navalny ally, put turnout in the capital at 50,000, the Proekt media outlet reported.

Some protesters chanted “Putin is a thief,” “Disgrace” and “Freedom to Navalny!”

U.S., EU condemn ‘harsh tactics’

Navalny’s wife, Yulia, said on social media that she had been detained at the rally. Navalny’s mother, Ludmila, was also at the protest.

Some of Navalny’s political allies were detained in the days before the protest, others on the day itself.

At one point, protesters surrounded a sleek black car with a flashing light used by senior officials, throwing snowballs at it and kicking it. A group of police officers was also pelted with snowballs by a much bigger crowd.


A demonstrator holds a placard reading ‘One for all, all for one’ during a rally in support of Navalny in Omsk, Russia, on Saturday. (Alexey Malgavko/Reuters)

The OVD-Info protest monitor group said that at least 2,250 people, including 855 in Moscow and 327 in St. Petersburg, had been detained at rallies in nearly 70 towns and cities.

The United States condemned what it described as “harsh tactics” used against protesters and journalists and called for Navalny’s “immediate and unconditional” release.

“We call on Russian authorities to release all those detained for exercising their universal rights,” U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement.


The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said in a tweet that he deplored the “disproportionate use of force” by authorities, while Britain’s foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, condemned the “use of violence against peaceful protesters and journalists.”

Navalny, a 44-year-old lawyer, is in a Moscow prison pending the outcome of four legal matters he describes as trumped up. He accuses President Vladimir Putin of ordering his attempted murder. Putin has dismissed that, alleging Navalny is part of a U.S.-backed dirty-tricks campaign to discredit him.

Some protesters marched on the prison, where police were waiting to arrest them.

Images of protesters with injuries such as bloodied heads circulated on social media.


A large protest supporting Navalny was also held in St. Petersburg. (Dmitri Lovetsky/The Associated Press)

The scenes were reminiscent of the months-long unrest in Russia’s neighboring ally Belarus, where anti-government protests flared last August over allegations of voter fraud.

One Moscow protester, Sergei Radchenko, 53, said: “I’m tired of being afraid. I haven’t just turned up for myself and Navalny but for my son, because there is no future in this country.”

He added that he was frightened but felt strongly about what he called an out-of-control judicial system.

Protests across Europe

There was no immediate comment from the Kremlin, which had previously called the protests illegal and the work of “provocateurs.”

State prosecutors said they would look into alleged violence against police officers by protesters.

In Berlin, Hamburg and Munich, nearly 1,000 people demonstrated against Navalny’s arrest. Small demonstrations were also held in Bulgaria, and some 200 to 300 people protested in Paris.


Navalny supporters demonstrate in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin on Saturday. (Omer Messinger/Getty Images)

Police in Siberia’s Yakutsk, one of the coldest cities in the world, where the temperature was –52 C on Saturday, grabbed a protester by his arms and legs and dragged him into a van, video footage showed.

In Moscow, some journalists covering the protests were detained, drawing a rebuke from the U.S. Embassy.

“Russian authorities arresting peaceful protesters, journalists,” spokesperson Rebecca Ross said on Twitter. “Appears to be a concerted campaign to suppress free speech, peaceful assembly.”

WATCH | Bill Browder calls on Canada and its allies to sanction Russian officials:

Bill Browder, head of the Global Magnitsky Justice Campaign, is calling on the international community to take action following the arrest and jailing of outspoken Putin critic Alexei Navalny in Russia. 1:45

There were outages on mobile phone and internet services, the monitoring site downdetector.ru showed, a tactic sometimes used by authorities to make it harder for protesters to communicate among themselves.

Britain’s Foreign Office said it was “deeply concerned by the detention of peaceful protesters.”

‘Putin’s palace’

In a push to galvanize support ahead of the protests, Navalny’s team released a video about an opulent palace on the Black Sea they alleged belonged to Putin, something the Kremlin denied. As of Saturday, the clip, with the words “Putin’s palace” in the title, had been viewed more than 69 million times.

Navalny’s allies hope to tap into what polls say are pent-up frustrations among the public over years of falling wages and economic fallout from the pandemic.

But Putin’s grip on power looks unassailable for now, and the 68-year-old president regularly records an approval rating of more than 60 per cent, much higher than that of Navalny.

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Dozens of Hong Kong pro-democracy figures arrested: reports

About 50 Hong Kong pro-democracy figures were arrested by police on Wednesday under a national security law, following their involvement in an unofficial primary election last year held to increase their chances of controlling the legislature, according to local media reports.

Those arrested included former lawmakers and pro-democracy activists, and the group were arrested on suspicion of subversion under the territory’s national security law, according to reports by local newspaper South China Morning Post and online news platform Now News.

At least seven members of Hong Kong’s Democratic Party — the territory’s largest opposition party — were arrested, including former party chairman Wu Chi-wai. Former lawmakers, including Helena Wong, Lam Cheuk-ting, and James To, were also arrested, according to a post on the party’s Facebook page.

Benny Tai, a key figure in Hong Kong’s 2014 Occupy Central protests and a former law professor, was also arrested, according to local media reports. Tai was one of the main organizers of the primaries.

The home of Joshua Wong, a prominent pro-democracy activist who is currently serving a 13½-month prison sentence for organizing and participating in an unauthorized protest last year, was also raided this morning, according to a tweet posted from Wong’s account.


The mass arrests on Wednesday are the largest to date since the national security law was implemented in Hong Kong in June last year. In recent months, Hong Kong has jailed several pro-democracy activists including Wong and Agnes Chow for their involvement in antigovernment protests, and others have been charged under the national security law, including media tycoon and outspoken pro-democracy activist Jimmy Lai.

Pro-democracy activists and lawmakers had last July held an unofficial primary election to figure out which candidates they should field in a now-postponed legislative election that would boost their chances of gaining a majority of seats in legislature. Gaining a majority would allow the pro-democracy camp to vote against what they deemed to be pro-Beijing government policies.

More than 600,000 people in Hong Kong voted in the primaries, although pro-Beijing lawmakers and politicians criticized the event and warned that it could be in breach of the territory’s national security law, which was imposed on Hong Kong by Beijing in June to quash dissent following months of anti-government protests.

Beijing also blasted the primaries as “illegal,” calling it a “serious provocation” of Hong Kong’s current electoral system.

Following the handover of Hong Kong to China by the British in 1997, the semi-autonomous Chinese territory has operated on a “one country, two systems” framework that affords it freedoms not found on the mainland. In recent years, Beijing has asserted more control, drawing criticism that Hong Kong’s freedoms were under attack.

The legislative elections, originally slated to be held in September, were later postponed for a year after Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam claimed that holding elections would be a risk to public health given the coronavirus pandemic. The pro-democracy camp denounced the postponement as unconstitutional.

In November, all of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy lawmakers resigned en masse after Beijing passed a resolution that led to the disqualification of four of its camp.

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Dozens arrested as Belarus police break up street protests

Police in Belarus on Sunday arrested dozens of people in Minsk demonstrating against Alexander Lukashenko, leader of the former Soviet country, a witness said and several media outlets reported.

The witness said police used rubber bullets against the protesters. Interfax news agency said police had used tear gas to disperse the crowd near the Pushkinskaya metro station.

Mobile internet has been also down across the city, according to the witness.

Belarus is in a political crisis as tens of thousands of Belarusians have taken to the streets each week since an election in August, calling for Lukashenko to resign after 26 years in power. Lukashenko has rejected opposition accusations that the election was rigged in his favour.

Thousands of people have been arrested and rights groups say hundreds of detainees have reported being subjected to beatings and other abuse.

The street rallies were re-ignited following a death of a 31-year old anti-government protester Roman Bondarenko, who died in hospital on Thursday following what demonstrators said was a severe beating by security forces.

The interior ministry denied responsibility for Bondarenko’s death, saying he had been killed in a scuffle with civilians.

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‘Gigolos’ Star Ash Armand Arrested for Allegedly Murdering Girlfriend

‘Gigolos’ Star Ash Armand Arrested for Allegedly Murdering Girlfriend | Entertainment Tonight

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British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell arrested on charges related to Epstein investigation

British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell was arrested Thursday in the United States on charges she helped recruit three girls — one as young as 14 — to be sexually abused by convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, who died last year.

Maxwell, who lived for years with Epstein, was taken into custody around 8:30 a.m. local time in New Hampshire, said FBI spokesperson Marty Feely.

An indictment made public Thursday alleges that Maxwell “assisted, facilitated and contributed to Jeffrey Epstein’s abuse of minor girls by, among other things, helping Epstein to recruit, groom and ultimately abuse” girls under age 18.

Epstein, 66, died by suicide in a federal detention centre in New York last summer while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges. In 2008, he pleaded guilty in Florida for soliciting and procuring a minor for prostitution.

The indictment included counts of conspiracy to entice minors to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, enticement of a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, conspiracy to transport minors with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity and two counts of perjury.

It focused on Epstein’s alleged abuse of three specific girls at his Manhattan mansion and other residences in Palm Beach, Fla., Santa Fe, N.M., and London. Their names were not disclosed in court filings.

WATCH | Ghislaine Maxwell facing multiple criminal charges:

The CBC’s Steven D’Souza details the arrest of Ghislaine Maxwell who is accused of procuring young girls for Jeffrey Epstein. 4:29

“More recently, we learned she had slithered away to a gorgeous property in New Hampshire, continuing to live a life of privilege while her victims live with the trauma inflicted upon them years ago,” William Sweeney, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s New York office, said at a news conference Thursday afternoon.

At a brief hearing Thursday, a magistrate judge ordered Maxwell to remain in custody while she is transferred to New York for a detention hearing.

Maxwell, 58, was accused by many women of recruiting them to give Epstein massages, during which they were pressured into sex. Those accusations, until now, never resulted in criminal charges.

Messages were sent Thursday to several of Maxwell’s attorneys seeking comment. She has previously repeatedly denied wrongdoing and called some of the claims against her “absolute rubbish.”


Read the full indictment here:


“Maxwell lied because the truth, as alleged, was almost unspeakable,” Audrey Strauss, the acting U.S. attorney in Manhattan, said at the press conference.

Jennifer Araoz, a woman who says Epstein raped her in his New York mansion in 2002 when she was 15, said she feared the financier’s ring of conspirators for years.

“Now that the ring has been taken down, I know that I can’t be hurt anymore,” Araoz, now 33, said in a statement.

“Day after day, I have waited for the news that Maxwell would be arrested and held accountable for her actions. Her arrest is a step in that direction, and it truly means that the justice system didn’t forget about us.” 

Among the most sensational accusations was a claim by one Epstein victim, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, that Maxwell arranged for her to have sex with Prince Andrew at her London townhouse. Giuffre bolstered her allegations with a picture of her, Andrew and Maxwell that she said was taken at the time.

Prince Andrew denied her story. Maxwell said in a deposition that Giuffre was “totally lying.”

Strauss said she would “welcome Prince Andrew coming in to talk with us,” but did not answer further questions pertaining to these charges and Andrew. 

‘Entice and groom’

The indictment mirrored many of the claims previously made in civil lawsuits against Maxwell.

It said that as early as 1994, Maxwell would “entice and groom” minor girls by asking them about their lives, their schools and their families.

“Through this process, Maxwell and Epstein enticed victims to engage in sexual activity with Epstein. In some instances, Maxwell was present for and participated in the sexual abuse of minor victims,” the indictment said.

Maxwell repeatedly lied when questioned about her conduct, it said.

At the time the alleged crimes occurred, Maxwell was in an intimate relationship with Epstein and also was paid by him to manage his various properties, according to the indictment, which included a photograph of Epstein with his arm around Maxwell and his head nuzzling hers.

Epstein was initially investigated in Florida and pleaded guilty to state charges in 2008 that allowed him to avoid a lengthy prison sentence. He was free a little after a year in prison.

At the time, a federal prosecutor in Florida signed off on an agreement, initially filed in secret, that barred the federal government from charging “any potential co-conspirators of Epstein.”

Geoffrey Berman, the former U.S. attorney in Manhattan, argued that federal prosecutors in New York were not bound by that agreement and brought a sweeping indictment against Epstein. Berman vowed to continue seeking justice for Epstein’s victims even after the financier’s death, but was abruptly fired last month.

Maxwell was described in a lawsuit by another Epstein victim, Sarah Ransome, as the “highest-ranking employee” of Epstein’s alleged sex trafficking enterprise. She oversaw and trained recruiters, developed recruiting plans and helped conceal the activity from law enforcement, the lawsuit alleged.

Brad Edwards, an attorney representing Giuffre and several other Epstein victims said his clients were relieved by the charges.

“Today is a very good day,” he said.

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