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The world in brief: Australia files 1st foreign-meddling case

by Compiled by Democrat-Gazette staff from wire reports | November 6, 2020 at 4:00 a.m.

Australia files 1st foreign-meddling case

MELBOURNE, Australia -- A 65-year-old man has become the first person to be charged under Australia's foreign interference laws that were passed two years ago, police said Thursday.

Di Sanh Duong has a relationship with a foreign intelligence agency, an Australian federal police statement said. Police would not name the country, but the legislation largely targets China's growing influence.

Doung was charged in Melbourne Magistrates Court on Thursday with preparing for a foreign interference offense, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

He was released on bond to appear in court again in March.

The charge followed a yearlong investigation by the Counter Foreign Interference Task Force which was led by the Australian Security Intelligence Organization, the nation's domestic spy agency, and federal police, the statement said.

"The [task force] has taken preventative action to disrupt this individual at an early stage," police Deputy Commissioner Ian McCartney said.

Australia passed laws in 2018 that ban covert foreign interference in domestic politics and make industrial espionage for a foreign power a crime. The laws offended the nation's most important trading partner, China.

Russia-held U.S. man said to be harassed

MOSCOW -- The brother of an American convicted of espionage in Russia said Thursday that his imprisoned sibling is suffering sleep deprivation at a prison colony where he is serving a 16-year sentence.

David Whelan said his brother, Paul, complained that he was being woken up at approximately two-hour intervals every night over the past few weeks. The practice apparently began because someone in the Russian system deemed Paul Whelan a flight risk, his brother said.

"It is ridiculous to label someone like Paul -- a foreigner lacking in money and language skills, let alone family and other connections in Russia -- a flight risk," David Whelan said.

The U.S. Embassy has protested to the Russian Foreign Ministry but not received a response, he said.

Paul Whelan, a former corporate security executive from Michigan, was arrested in Moscow in December 2018. His lawyer said Whelan was handed a flash drive that had classified information on it that he didn't know about.

Whelan was convicted in June and sentenced to 16 years in prison. He was sent to a prison colony in Mordovia, about 210 miles east of Moscow.

Attacks cited as France tightens borders

PARIS -- French President Emmanuel Macron said on Thursday that France is reinforcing its border controls after a series of attacks that hit the country in recent weeks.

Macron said the number of police and troops in charge of border controls will double from 2,400 now to 4,800. They will focus on fighting illegal immigration and smuggling activities, he said, during a visit to a frontier post in Le Perthus, at the border with Spain.

"We see very clearly that terrorist actions can actually be led by some people who use migratory flows to threaten our territory. So we must reinforce our controls for reasons of national security," Macron said.

Macron notably referred to the Islamic extremist attack at Notre Dame Basilica in the city of Nice that killed three people last week. The chief suspect, Ibrahim Issaoui, is a 21-year-old Tunisian who transited through Italy in September en route to France. Issaoui is now in a French hospital after being wounded by police as they arrested him.

In addition, Macron said he will push for changes to make controls at the European Union's external borders more efficient.

"Attacks in France, in Austria a few days ago in Vienna, show us that the terrorist risk is everywhere, that [terrorist] networks are global ... which forces Europe to intensify its response," he said. France will present its proposals at a European summit in December.

The country raised its security alert to the maximum level after Nice attack on Oct. 29.

Vatican inquiry keys on abuse reporting

WARSAW, Poland -- The Vatican has ordered an investigation into allegations that a now-retired archbishop in Poland was negligent in investigating reports of sex abuse of minors by priests in his Gdansk archdiocese.

The Vatican Embassy in predominantly Roman Catholic Poland said the archbishop of Warsaw had been assigned to conduct the inquiry and that the preliminary investigation into Archbishop Slawoj Leszek Glodz has been completed.

The embassy provided no details about the outcome in a statement issued this week.

Pope Francis accepted Glodz's resignation on his 75th birthday in August, a sign he was taking the allegations against the archbishop seriously. Glodz, who had also served as the chief chaplain of Poland's armed force, denies any negligence.

Abuse survivors included Glodz in a report identifying two dozen current and retired Polish bishops accused of protecting predator priests. The report was delivered to Francis on the eve of his 2019 global abuse prevention summit at the Vatican.

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