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Legal news from Saturday, May 16, 2009




Myanmar disbars lawyer seeking to represent jailed democracy advocate
Tere Miller-Sporrer on May 16, 2009 12:08 PM ET

[JURIST] The government of Myanmar has disbarred a lawyer who sought to represent jailed democracy advocate Aung San Suu Kyi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] in her upcoming trial. The government cited Aung Thein's previous four-month jail term for contempt of court [IANS report] as the reason for the disbarment. Aung Thein was jailed for allowing his clients, student activists and members of the National League for Democracy, to criticize the court. The disbarment comes as Myanmar faces harsh international condemnation for last week's arrest of Suu Kyi [JURIST report]. Suu Kyi, whose house arrest is set to expire on May 27, was arrested when an uninvited US citizen swam to her house and stayed on the property.

Suu Kyi, the leader of the National League for Democracy, has spent 12 of the past 18 years in prison or under house arrest for alleged violations of an anti-subversion law [text]. In 2007, the military government had implied that she might be released [JURIST report] after the country's new constitution was approved. In May 2008, the junta announced that Myanmar's draft constitution [JURIST news archive] had been overwhelmingly approved [JURIST report] but the ruling junta at the same time extended Suu Kyi's house arrest for another year [JURIST report].






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CIA director says agency did not mislead Congress on interrogation techniques
Tere Miller-Sporrer on May 16, 2009 11:36 AM ET

[JURIST] Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) [official website] Leon Panetta [official profile] on Friday defended information the CIA gave to Congress on the use of interrogation techniques during the Bush administration. In response to statements made by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) [official website], in which she claimed to have been misled [JURIST report] by the CIA, and the subsequent media reaction to those statements, Panetta issued a statement [press release] to his employees urging them to "ignore the noise and stay focused on your mission." In the statement, Panetta said:

Let me be clear: It is not our policy or practice to mislead Congress. That is against our laws and our values. As the Agency indicated previously in response to Congressional inquiries, our contemporaneous records from September 2002 indicate that CIA officers briefed truthfully on the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, describing “the enhanced techniques that had been employed.” Ultimately, it is up to Congress to evaluate all the evidence and reach its own conclusions about what happened.
On Thursday, Pelosi claimed that the CIA misled Congress on use of harsh interrogation techniques, just one day after Wednesday's hearing [materials; JURIST report] before the Senate Subcommittee on Administrative Oversight and the Courts [official website] on whether Bush administration interrogation techniques constituted torture. The recent release of four CIA interrogation memos [JURIST report] has renewed calls for the criminal prosecution of the memos' authors. US President Barack Obama has said that he would not rule out the possibility of prosecuting [transcript; JURIST report] lawyers responsible for authoring the memos. Obama had previously said that he would not pursue prosecutions of CIA interrogators [statement], a pledge which drew sharp international criticism [JURIST report].





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