The world in brief: Tropical cyclone hits Australian coast

Jaxon Andrews, 11, attempts to feed a white cockatoo who has suffered the effects from Cyclone Jasper in Cairns, Australia, on Thursday.
(AP/AAPImage/Brian Cassey)
Jaxon Andrews, 11, attempts to feed a white cockatoo who has suffered the effects from Cyclone Jasper in Cairns, Australia, on Thursday. (AP/AAPImage/Brian Cassey)

Tropical cyclone hits Australian coast

CANBERRA, Australia -- The first tropical cyclone to hit Australia in the current season weakened to a low-pressure system but continued to lash the northeast coast Thursday with flooding rain and left almost 40,000 homes and businesses without power.

Cyclone Jasper crossed the Queensland state coast late Wednesday as a Category 2 storm on a five-tier scale that whipped the sparsely populated region with winds of up to 87 mph.

The cyclone crossed near the Aboriginal community of Wujal Wujal, 68 miles north of the city of Cairns, though many of its 300 residents evacuated before Jasper struck.

Katrina Hewitt, who operates tourist accommodation at Wujal Wujal and did not evacuate, said the community was largely unscathed except for damaged trees.

"It looks amazing. No flooding, no breakages of buildings," Hewitt said.

"It was a big waiting game. We just didn't know what was going to happen," she said.

Hewitt expected Wujal Wujal would be isolated for days by fallen trees blocking roads.

Ex-FBI official gets 4-year sentence

NEW YORK -- A former top FBI counterintelligence official was ordered Thursday to spend over four years in prison for violating sanctions on Russia by going to work for a Russian oligarch seeking dirt on a wealthy rival after he finished his government career.

Charles McGonigal was sentenced to four years and two months in prison in Manhattan federal court by Judge Jennifer H. Rearden, who said McGonigal harmed national security by repeatedly flouting sanctions meant to put economic pressure on Russia to get results without military force. He was also fined $40,000.

She imposed the sentence after a prosecutor cast McGonigal's crime as a greedy money-grab that leveraged the knowledge he gained in his FBI career to cozy up to a notorious Russian oligarch, billionaire industrialist Oleg Deripaska.

Deripaska has been under U.S. sanctions since 2018 for reasons related to Russia's occupation of Crimea.

Given a chance to speak, McGonigal told the judge in a voice that sometimes got shaky that he had a "deep sense of remorse and am sorry for my actions."

"I recognize more than ever that I've betrayed the confidence and trust of those close to me," he said. "For the rest of my life, I will be fighting to regain that trust."

Kosovo war crimes convictions upheld

THE HAGUE, Netherlands -- Appeals judges at a special Kosovo court upheld Thursday the convictions of a former commander in the Kosovo Liberation Army for arbitrarily detaining and torturing prisoners and murdering one of them during Kosovo's war for independence, but reduced his sentence by four years.

The commander, Salih Mustafa, was convicted a year ago and sentenced to 26 years' imprisonment for the crimes committed at a KLA compound in Zllash, Kosovo, in April 1999. He was acquitted of one charge of mistreating detainees who were perceived as supporters of Serbia.

While dismissing all Mustafa's appeals against his convictions, the appeals chamber at the Kosovo Specialist Chambers cut his sentence to 22 years of imprisonment, saying it was higher than international and domestic sentencing standards in comparable cases.

Presiding Judge Michèle Picard called the ruling -- the first appeals judgment in a war crimes case at the court -- an important milestone and a "significant step towards providing justice to victims and ensuring accountability."

Picard stressed that the reduction in Mustafa's sentence "in no way suggests that the crimes for which he has been convicted and sentenced are not grave."

Mustafa showed no emotion as Picard read out the appeal judgment.

Suspected spy's name said revealed

COPENHAGEN, Denmark -- An academic who entered Norway as a Brazilian citizen and was arrested last year on suspicion of spying for Russia has confessed his real, Russian name, Norwegian authorities said Thursday.

The man was detained in the Arctic city of Tromsoe, where he worked as a lecturer at the Arctic University of Norway. Norwegian media have said he called himself Jose Assis Giammaria.

A prosecutor for Norway's domestic security agency told The Associated Press that the suspect had confirmed his real name at a custody hearing last week.

The suspect arrived in Norway in 2021, and has researched the northern regions and hybrid threats. Norway's Arctic border with Russia is 123 miles long.

Norwegian investigators believe he was in NATO-member Norway under a false name and identity while working for one of Russia's intelligence services. Norwegian investigators have said his real name is Mikhail Mikushin.

Mikushin, who has been transferred to detention in the capital of Oslo, faces up to three years in prison under Norwegian espionage laws. Per Niklas Hafsmoe, a prosecutor with the agency, said the 45-year-old has declined to speak to the police but claims no wrongdoing.

  photo  Charles McGonigal (left) a former top FBI counterintelligence official, leaves Manhattan federal court Thursday after he was sentenced to four years and two months in prison for violating U.S. sanctions against a Russian oligarch. (AP/Larry Neumeister)

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