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Curated top stories
- FBI warns Republicans not to release the “memo” – FBI Director Christopher A. Wray criticized congressional Republicans who plan to release a classified memo that reportedly depicts the agency as using unethical means to harm Donald J. Trump’s campaign (New York Times). The official statement accused the Republican document as being misleading: “we have grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.”
- Release for Amnesty head – A court in Istanbul ordered the release of Taner Kilic, head of rights group Amnesty International in Turkey. Kilic has been in jail since June 2017 and was imprisoned on terrorism charges, accused of using smartphone messenger app ByLock. Ten other activists are still on trial. (See WikiTribune community member John Lubbock’s piece for background on Kilic initially being charged.)
- The Turkish government said ByLock was used by followers of the U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen, who Turkey says was behind the failed coup attempt in July 2016. Gulen denies orchestrating the attempted uprising.
- Fired Catalan president denies giving up – Carles Puigdemont said he still wants to be Catalan president despite text messages from him, including those saying “it is over” and Madrid “has won,” that were broadcast on Spanish TV station Telecinco.
- Puigdemont held an independence referendum deemed illegal by Spain’s national government and declared Catalan independence in October 2017, leading to Spain charging him with sedition and rebellion. The former mayor of the city of Girona then fled to Belgium where he remains in exile.
- Yemen separatists capture most of Aden – Yemeni separatists took control of most of the southern port city of Aden, after days of skirmishes with government forces. Prime Minister Ahmed bin Daghar and members of his cabinet are thought to be holed up inside the presidential palace. The Southern separatists and government forces were once allied against Houthi rebels in the north of Yemen and the sides are rumored to be opening talks, according to the BBC. The recent fighting has already led to the deaths of at least 36 people since Sunday, the Red Cross says.
Trump issues appeal for unity – U.S. President Donald Trump declared a “new American moment” in his first State of the Union speech to Congress. Trump urged collaboration with Democrats and said he was ordering Guantanamo Bay to be kept open, reversing an Obama-era ruling to close the controversial detention camp. (Read WikiTribune‘s full coverage of the speech and help us report on it.)
- Deadline for Afghan refugees in Pakistan – The futures of more than a million Afghan residents in Pakistan are up in the air as the deadline on the validity of their legal refugee status is due to expire on Wednesday, reports Al Jazeera. Pakistan has extended the deadline of the refugees’ settlement status multiple times, but the last one awarded on January 3 was the shortest ever awarded, at only a month. Many of the refugees have lived in the country for decades.
- Islamic fundamentalist group the Taliban is still active in 70 percent of Afghanistan, a BBC study published on Tuesday found. However, this is significantly higher than the NATO-led coalition’s most recent assessment. The Afghan government also played down the report, claiming the Taliban contested or controlled only 44 percent of Afghan districts as of October 2017. U.S.-led forces have spent billions of dollars trying to defeat the Taliban during its 16-year war with Afghan forces, and a renewed spate of violence over the past nine days has left the country reeling, according to Reuters.
What we’re reading
- Decades before he ran the Trump campaign, Paul Manafort’s pursuit of foreign cash and shady deals laid the groundwork for the corruption of Washington. This profile in The Atlantic outlines how Manafort, now implicated in a special prosecutor investigation into Russian meddling in the U.S presidential election, became known as a go-to man for making those deals happen – whatever the cost. – Charles Anderson
What the WikiTribune community is up to
- The WikiTribune community is following the claims, promises and themes of Trump’s State of the Union speech. Help build on it here.