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The world in brief: Spy case targets American, Russia says

by Compiled by Democrat-Gazette Staff From Wire Reports | January 20, 2023 at 3:48 a.m.

Spy case targets American, Russia says

MOSCOW -- Russia's Federal Security Service said Thursday it has initiated an espionage case against a U.S. citizen, but did not name the person or specify whether they were in custody.

In a brief statement, the FSB service said the American is "suspected of collecting intelligence information on biological topics directed against the security of the Russian Federation."

"We are aware of these unconfirmed reports of an investigation regarding a U.S. citizen in Russia," State Department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel said.

"Generally, the Russian Federation does not abide by its obligations to provide timely notification of the detention of U.S. citizens in Russia," Patel said. "Russian authorities also don't regularly inform the embassy of the trials, sentencing or movement of U.S. citizens. We're looking into this matter and will continue to monitor it."

The charge carries a potential prison term of 10-20 years.

Paul Whelan, a Michigan corporate security executive, has been jailed in Russia for four years on espionage charges that his family and the United States government have said are baseless.

China's AI aims worry for FBI director

WASHINGTON -- FBI Director Christopher Wray said Thursday that he was "deeply concerned" about the Chinese government's artificial intelligence program, asserting that it was "not constrained by the rule of law."

Speaking during a panel session at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Wray said Beijing's AI ambitions were "built on top of massive troves of intellectual property and sensitive data that they've stolen over the years."

He said that left unchecked, China could use artificial intelligence advancements to further its hacking operations, intellectual property theft and repression of dissidents inside the country and beyond.

"That's something we're deeply concerned about, and I think everyone here should be deeply concerned about," he said.

More broadly, he said, "AI is a classic example of a technology where I have the same reaction every time. I think, 'Wow, we can do that?' And then I think, 'Oh God, they can do that.'"

Such concerns have long been voiced by U.S. officials. In October 2021, for instance, U.S. counterintelligence officials issued warnings about China's ambitions in AI as part of a renewed effort to inform business executives, academics and local and state government officials about the risks of accepting Chinese investment or expertise in key industries.

Bosnian Serb sentenced for war crime

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina -- A former Bosnian Serb military commander was sentenced to 15 years in prison Thursday for crimes against civilians during the country's 1992-95 interethnic war.

The Court of Bosnia-Herzegovina ruled that Boban Indjic participated in a 1993 atrocity in which 20 non-Serb civilians were hauled off a train in the small Bosnian town of Strpci, near the Serbian border, and taken away to be tortured and killed.

The court found Indjic was part of a group of Bosnian Serb soldiers and paramilitaries who ambushed the train and abducted the 20 passengers, who had been traveling from Serbian capital, Belgrade, to the coastal town of Bar in Montenegro. The group dumped the bodies in the Drina River.

At the time, Indjic was the commander of the intervention detachment of a Bosnian Serb army brigade operating in eastern Bosnia. Last October, the court sentenced seven former members of the detachment to a total of 91 years in prison for their role in the crime.

A separate trial over the Strpci massacre of another former member of the detachment and three ex-members of the notorious Bosnian Serb paramilitary unit the Avengers is currently taking place in Serbia. The sentencing hearing in that trial has been scheduled for Feb. 7.

U.S. sends Mexico suspect in vanishings

MEXICO CITY -- U.S. authorities handed over a key suspect in the 2014 disappearance of 43 college students to Mexico, after the man was caught trying to cross the border Dec. 20 without proper documents.

Mexico's National Immigration Institute identified the man only by his first name, but a federal agent later confirmed Thursday that he is Alejandro Tenescalco. The institute said he failed to qualify for asylum in the United States.

Tenescalco was a police supervisor in the city of Iguala, where the students from a rural teachers college were abducted by municipal police. Investigations suggest corrupt police turned the students over to a drug gang, who killed them and burned their bodies.

Alejandro Encinas, the head of the government Truth Commission, has called Tenescalco "one of the main perpetrators" of the crime.

He faces charges of kidnapping and organized crime. The Mexican government had offered a $500,000 reward for his arrest.

In 2022, the Truth Commission declared the disappearances a "state crime," because authorities at all levels of government were involved in the disappearances and cover-up.

Print Headline: Spy case targets American, Russia says China’s AI aims worry for FBI director Bosnian Serb sentenced for war crime U.S. sends Mexico suspect in vanishings


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