Ex-Australian given terror term in Turkey
KILIS, Turkey -- A Turkish court on Friday convicted an Australian-born Islamic State militant of belonging to a terror group and sentenced him to more than seven years in prison.
Neil Prakash, a former rapper from Melbourne, has been in a Turkish prison since 2016 when he was arrested near the Syrian border for attempting to cross into Turkey with fake documents. Turkish prosecutors said the 27-year-old had illegally crossed into Syria in 2013 where he joined the Islamic State.
He had featured in Islamic State videos, been linked to several attack plans in Australia and has urged lone-wolf attacks against the United States.
Delivering its verdict Friday, the Criminal Court in the southern city of Kilis found Prakash guilty of Islamic State membership and sentenced him to seven years and six months in prison. The court said he could be released in 2½ years under Turkish law, however.
Prakash's lawyer argued that his client had traveled to Syria to learn about Islam and to help people, and never intended to aid a terror organization, according to court papers.
Australia has stripped Prakash, who has Fijian and Cambodian parents, of his citizenship for extremist links.
3 nations urge Russia to keep nuke pact
BERLIN -- A group of European nations is urging Russia not to abandon a nuclear weapons treaty with the United States.
Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands are also calling for new arms-control agreements to address the rising power of China and other nations.
The U.S. gave notice of its intention to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty a month ago, citing Russian violations.
The European countries opened an arms control conference in Berlin on Friday urging Moscow "to return to complete and verifiable compliance" to save the treaty.
But German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said it's also time for broader treaties, as nuclear weapons proliferate in countries such as China, North Korea, India and Pakistan.
He said treaties also need to address new technologies, such as drones and cyberattacks.
China offers Taiwan more incentives
BEIJING -- China will introduce more "preferential policies" for Taiwan so the self-governed island's residents can enjoy the same treatment as mainland Chinese citizens, Premier Li Keqiang said Friday.
Li said new initiatives will be implemented to invite people from Taiwan to "work hand in hand to realize our shared dream for the nation." The initiatives follow 31 incentives recently introduced by China.
Such appeals form the carrot in China's strategy toward Taiwan in contrast with the stick of threatened military attack.
China has used increasingly aggressive rhetoric toward Taiwan, which split from the mainland during a civil war 70 years ago, but has sought to balance the two approaches to avoid alienating those in the island republic who are wary of Beijing.
The ruling Communist Party maintains that Taiwan is part of China. It opposes Taiwan independence and formally says it seeks a "peaceful reunification."
President Xi Jinping did not rule out the use of force during a January speech on cross-strait relations, when he proposed a "one country, two systems" approach similar to China's current arrangement with the former British colony of Hong Kong. That would enable Taiwan to keep its own economic and legal systems.
The suggestion has been rejected by Taiwan's independence-leaning President Tsai Ing-wen, who said China must accept the continued existence of the Republic of China, the formal name of the former mainland government that fled to Taiwan in 1949.
Migrants capsize off Morocco; some die
RABAT, Morocco -- Forty-five migrants died trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Spain, including pregnant women, a Spanish rights activist said Thursday, quoting survivors. Morocco reported that at least 21 other migrants were rescued at sea.
Helena Maleno, who runs the Tangier-based group Walking Borders, said she based her figure on accounts from seven survivors of the smuggling boat that foundered and took on water Wednesday.
"Survivors told me they had about 13 women on board. Many were pregnant," Maleno said by telephone. "There was also one young girl, between 12 and 14 years old, who didn't survive."
The information was not immediately confirmed by Morocco. A Moroccan official said Moroccan marines rescued at least 21 migrants on Thursday, a day after their rubber dinghy began to sink. One body was recovered, he said, but he was unaware of the total number of dead.
The official, who had information about the sinking, wasn't authorized to discuss it. He said the migrants, all from sub-Sahara Africa, were in bad shape when pulled from the water north of Nador.
Spain's Maritime Rescue Service said it offered Moroccan authorities logistical help for the search-and-rescue operation on Wednesday and Thursday.
-- Compiled by Democrat-Gazette staff from wire reports
A female polar bear cub walks with its mother Tonja through their enclosure at the Tierpark zoo in Berlin on Friday. The still unnamed bear, born Dec. 1. at the Tierpark, was presented to the public for the first time.
A Section on 03/16/2019
Print Headline: Ex-Australian given terror term in Turkey 3 nations urge Russia to keep nuke pact China offers Taiwan more incentives Migrants capsize off Morocco; some die