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High court temporarily blocks subpoena over sex ads
Legal News Digest | 2016/09/07 23:56
Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts on Tuesday temporarily blocked a congressional subpoena that seeks information on how the classified advertising website Backpage.com screens ads for possible sex trafficking.

The order came hours after Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer asked the high court to intervene, saying the case threatens the First Amendment rights of online publishers.

A federal appeals court ruled 2-1 on Friday that the website must respond to the subpoena within 10 days. Roberts said Backpage does not have to comply with the appeals court order until further action from the Supreme Court. He requested a response from the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations by Friday.

The Senate panel has tried for nearly a year to force Backpage to produce certain documents as part of its investigation into human trafficking over the Internet.

After the website refused to comply, the Senate voted 96-0 in March to hold the website in contempt. The vote allowed the Senate to pursue the documents in federal court, marking the first time in more than two decades that the Senate has enforced a subpoena in court.

A federal district judge sided with the Senate last month, rejecting arguments that the subpoena was unconstitutional, overly broad and burdensome. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit agreed.


2 teens killed in Atlanta suburb: Man accused due in court
Legal News Digest | 2016/08/19 16:44
A man accused of killing two teenagers near Atlanta is set to appear in court for a preliminary hearing.

Jeffrey Hazelwood is scheduled to appear Friday morning in Fulton County Magistrate Court.

The 20-year-old is charged with murder and theft in the killings of Carter Davis and Natalie Henderson in Roswell. The 17-year-olds were shot in the head. An autopsy report says their bodies were found behind a grocery store and had been placed in distinct poses.

Police have declined to discuss a possible motive for the slayings, or whether Hazelwood knew the teens.

Hazelwood's attorney, Lawrence Zimmerman, has said he'll provide a vigorous defense.

Henderson and Davis, who used to live in Rapid City, South Dakota, would have been seniors this year at their Georgia high schools.


Egyptian lawyer, journalist released after prison sentence
Legal News Digest | 2016/08/09 16:43
Egyptian authorities have released two prominent human rights activists who had been jailed for over a year for demonstrating against police brutality.

Lawyer Mahienour el-Masry and journalist Youssef Shabaan were freed Saturday after serving 15 months in jail having been convicted of "storming a police station" at a demonstration in the coastal city of Alexandria in 2013.

El-Masry had been incarcerated before for her activism, and in 2014 received the Ludovic Trarieux Human Rights Award while on hunger strike in prison. Hunger striking is often used in Egypt to protest ill treatment and lack of due process.

Egypt has undergone an unprecedented crackdown on free speech, political opposition and any dissent under general-turned-President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who has promised stability and the revival of a still-faltering economy in need of reform.



Turkish court issues arrest warrant for Muslim cleric
Legal News Digest | 2016/08/03 16:42
A court in Turkey issued a formal warrant Thursday for the arrest of U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who the government accuses of being behind the failed July 15 coup that left more than 270 people dead.

The state-run Anadolu news agency said an Istanbul-based court issued the warrant for "ordering the July 15 coup attempt."

The government says Gulen, a former ally of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania, masterminded the failed coup attempt by renegade officers in Turkey's military and wants him extradited to Turkey. Gulen has denied involvement or prior knowledge of the coup attempt.

Ankara has not yet made a formal extradition request, but the arrest warrant could be the prelude. Washington has asked for evidence of the cleric's involvement, and has said the extradition process must be allowed to take its course.

Anadolu said the court issued the warrant over a number of accusations, including an "attempt to eliminate the government of the Turkish Republic or to prevent it from carrying out its duties."

More specifically, Anadolu said the court based the arrest warrant on accusations the coup plotters tried to assassinate Erdogan, kidnapped Chief of Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar and other military officers, bombed parliament and killed police and civilians who resisted.

"It has been understood without a doubt that the attempted coup was an activity of the terror organization and that it was carried out with the orders of its founder, suspect Fethullah Gulen," Anadolu quoted from the court decision.



Thai military court adds to singer's jail term for insults
Legal News Digest | 2016/07/04 08:46
A Thai country singer and political activist was sentenced Monday by a military court to more than three years in jail for insulting the monarchy, adding to a 7½-year sentence a criminal court imposed on him earlier for the same offense.

Thanat Thanawatcharanon, known by his stage name Tom Dundee, was convicted and sentenced under Article 112, which makes criticism of the monarchy and the king punishable with up to 15 years in jail. The lese majeste law has been used prodigiously by the military government that came to power in a May 2014 coup.

Thanat got into trouble because of the speeches he made in 2013 at a rally organized by the so-called Red Shirts, who are supporters of a charismatic prime minister ousted in an earlier military coup supported by the Yellow Shirt royalists.

The case in criminal court followed complaints by a Yellow Shirt group. The second case involving the same speeches was transferred to a military court after the 2014 coup.

Thanat's lawyer Saowalux Po-Ngam said his client was sentenced to five years in jail for the second case, but the time was reduced to three years and four months because he confessed.



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