Amanda Knox’s alleged links to a circle of Italian cocaine dealers could provide new clues in the murder of British student Meredith Kercher almost seven years ago. The Italian prosecutor in the murder trial allegedly recently gave a local newspaper the names of the men, one of whom was a known associate of Knox whose number was found on her cell phone. According to the Italian news agency ANSA, during the investigation into Miss Kercher’s death in Perugia in 2007, police uncovered a drug ring in the sleepy Italian city.
Knox allegedly had the number of a suspected drug dealer in her phone. According to Italian newspaper Giallo, the American met the student from Rome on a train from Milan to Florence and shared a joint with him. They stayed in touch with the man, only identified as ‘F’, dealing drugs to Knox and occasionally having a sexual relationship with her. Police papers allegedly show calls had been made between the 26-year-old American and a drug dealer in the days before and after the murder of Miss Kercher. A Giallo article claims that ‘F’ along with two friends ended up on trial for dealing cocaine, charges that were brought after Knox’s phone was analyzed.
One man, ‘Luciano’, was arrested in 2006 for attempting to murder his brother with a kitchen knife in a dispute over drugs. According to ANSA, prosecutor Luciano Giuliano Mignini confirmed the link of the drug ring to Amanda Knox. Mignini allegedly told Giallo that he could not say if Knox knew drug dealers – but wrote down their names for the paper’s reporter. According to reports earlier this month, Italian prosecutors are preparing to use Amanda Knox’s alleged links to the cocaine ring to extradite her to Italy. Knox has vowed she would never ‘willingly’ return to Italy, where she and ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito were reconvicted earlier this year of the killing of 21-year-old Miss Kercher. Both Knox and Sollecito are appealing the verdict.
Sollecito and Knox were originally sentenced to 25 and 28 years in prison, respectively, for the murder of Kercher in Perugia and served four years before being released on appeal in 2011. On January 30, an Italian appeals court reconvicted the pair of murdering Miss Kercher – a ruling the pair are again appealing. Rudy Hermann Guede is serving 16 years for the British student’s murder after a separate fast-track hearing in 2008. It was reported earler this month that Knox could no longer rely on Sollecito being her alibi after he denied she was with him the whole of the night on which Miss Kercher was murdered. Knox and Sollecito have always maintained that they were together the evening of the brutal 2007 murder after which Miss Kercher was found half naked her throat slit in the cottage she shared with Knox.
WASHINGTON, D.C. | DMN — A surveillance reform bill backed by the Obama administration was introduced in the Senate on Tuesday, raising the possibility that Congress could this year take the National Security Agency out of the business of collecting and storing all US phone data. Introduced by Senator Patrick Leahy, the bill is a counterpart to the USA Freedom Act, which the House of Representatives passed in May, but contains some stricter privacy measures and broader transparency requirements – the absence of which caused civil libertarians, privacy groups and technology firms to abandon their support for the House version. Many of them are backing Leahy’s bill.
The question underlying the legislation is “whether we are in control of our own government or the other way around,” Leahy, the chairman of the Senate judiciary committee, said on the Senate floor. Warning that the legislative calendar will make passing reform this year difficult, Leahy said he wants to take the bill directly to the Senate floor. His 13 co-sponsors include Republicans Ted Cruz, Dean Heller and Mike Lee, who on the floor said the “broad-based bipartisan” bill “is absolutely necessary.” Leahy’s bill, like the House’s, would still provide the NSA with access to enormous amounts of American phone data. Though it would require a judge to issue an order to telecos for “call detail records” based on a “reasonable, articulable suspicion” of association with terrorism or a foreign power, the NSA will be able to use that single order to obtain the “call detail records” of a suspicious entity, as well as those of entities in “direct connection” with it and entities in connection with those. While that would permit the NSA to yield thousands of records off of a single court order, on a daily basis for six months, the NSA and the bill’s architects contend that it bans “bulk collection.”
Leahy’s bill would go further than the House version in narrowing the critical definition of “specific selection term,” a foundational aspect of the bill defining what the government can collect. The House definition is a “term specifically identifying a person, entity, account, address, or device,” which privacy groups have lambasted as unreasonably broad. Seeking to plug that loophole, Leahy would prevent the NSA or the FBI from accessing a service provider’s entire clientele or a wholesale “city, state, zip code, or area code.” Although the Leahy bill has the support of several civil libertarian groups and major tech firms like Facebook and Google, it does not revive some privacy proposals that those organizations considered crucial but the intelligence agencies and their advocates in Congress stripped from the House measure.
Leahy’s bill would not ban the NSA from warrantlessly accessing Americans’ communications information collected in its ostensibly foreign-focused dragnets, something civil libertarians call the “backdoor search loophole.” The NSA considers its ability to conduct those searches more important than collecting all US phone data. Instead, the Leahy bill’s disclosure requirements instruct the director of national intelligence to annually reveal “the number of search terms that included information concerning a United States person that were used to query any database of the contents of electronic communications or wire communications” as well as the total number of searches. But the bill, as first noted by journalist Marcy Wheeler, continues a practice ofexempting the FBI from even noting that it has performed such searches. The NSA recently disclosed that it searched for 198 “identifiers” of Americans’ data within the troves in 2013, something the CIA and FBI can also access. In June, the House voted to forbid the warrantless searches.
Relatedly, the Senate version of the USA Freedom Act bans the government from using in court communications data collected warrantlessly, something the Justice Department has begun informing defendants it is doing. Democratic senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall, the intelligence committee’s leading civil libertarians, praised Leahy’s bill but said it needed to go further to protect Americans from the warrantless searches. “Congress needs to close this loophole, and we look forward to working with Chairman Leahy and our colleagues to address this issue when the bill comes before the full U.S. Senate,” the two senators said in a joint statement. The Senate version of the Freedom Act would also create a stronger privacy advocate for the secret Fisa Court, which currently only hears the government’s perspective before issuing the records orders. The House voted for an ad hoc advocate for cases involving “a novel or significant interpretation of the law,” although Fisa judges could determine its presence is unnecessary in a specific case.
Leahy’s bill instead would create a standing panel of special advocates before the court – one which will not necessarily participate in each case the court hears – and allow the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, the government’s official privacy watchdog, to aid in its empanelment. As well, Leahy’s version would provide for greater transparency by companies subjected to national-security records orders, another priority for civil libertarians. Yet Leahy’s bill, like its House counterpart, grants legal immunity and financial compensation to service providers complying with surveillance orders. Like the House bill, it does not provide any additional privacy protections to non-Americans.
The bill faces an uncertain future in the Senate. The intelligence committee in June showed itself to be an outpost of opposition even to the House version of the Freedom Act that lacked Leahy’s privacy provisions. The calendar is also an obstacle: the Senate leaves on Friday for its August recess, only to reconvene in the height of the midterm election season. Without action ahead of the expiration of the legislative session in December, NSA reformers would have to go back to square one in the next Congress, leaving the NSA with practically all of its pre-Snowden powers, absent some restrictions President Obama ordered in January. “We’re running short on time in this Congress,” Leahy said.
The introduction of Leahy’s bill was greeted warmly but measuredly by privacy advocates and tech firms disappointed by the House version. Mozilla’s privacy chief, Alex Fowler, said: “We’re pleased to see the Senate propose limits on mass surveillance but more reform is needed to repair the damage inflicted on Internet users and the Web economy. We hope the Senate will hold firm to the bill’s language and forgo loopholes that would further undermine trust, such as allowing bulk collection through broad ‘selector terms’ that sidestep the problem.” Microsoft’s top lawyer said the bill “strengthens our privacy rights and our civil liberties.” Amie Stepanovich, a lawyer with the digital rights group Access, which is supporting the bill, urged Congress to “immediately turn to Section 702” after the Leahy bill, a reference to the 2008 amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act – the wellspring of NSA’s foreign digital dragnets, the collection of Americans’ international communications and the backdoor-search loophole.
Congress should “pass comprehensive reform which limits [section 702’s] scope and ensures that the US government isn’t sweeping up the communications of millions of innocent users. In addition, the administration needs to focus on ending massive surveillance programs under Executive Order 12333, which the intelligence community unilaterally executes without any court or congressional oversight,” Stepanovich said.
The same woman, an alleged prostitute, involved in a scandal that forced Boone County (Indiana) Sheriff Ken Campbell to resign is a central figure in an investigation that led to a federal indictment Tuesday against the Clark County (Indiana) sheriff, according to law enforcement sources. The woman was not named in the investigation involving Campbell or the indictment handed down Tuesday charging Clark County Sheriff Danny Rodden with eight counts linked to allegations he paid a prostitute for sex, but a law enforcement source familiar with the investigation confirmed the cases involved the same woman.
The Associated Press on Tuesday also cited an anonymous source “with knowledge of the connection” who confirmed the same woman was involved in both the Campbell and Rodden investigations. Campbell resigned as sheriff June 19 at the same time the Sheriff’s Office announced that the Hamilton-Boone County Drug Task Force was investigating Campbell’s relationship with a prostitute that spanned about four years. Campbell has not been charged. Chief Deputy Major Mike Nielsen took over as acting sheriff. On Tuesday, a judge unsealed a federal indictment charging Rodden with one count of counseling someone to destroy evidence in a federal investigation and seven counts of making false statements regarding a 2013 encounter at a Louisville hotel where Rodden is accused of paying a prostitute $300 for oral sex.
The indictment, handed down July 23, alleges Rodden provided the prostitute “with law enforcement credentials and an official deputy’s badge of the Clark County Sheriff’s Department,” so the prostitute could obtain a government employee’s rate at hotels. Rodden will remain sheriff unless he is convicted of a felony, according to Brad Blackington, senior litigation counsel for the U.S. Justice Department. If convicted of all the charges, Rodden could face up to 65 years in federal prison as well as fines of up to $2 million, Blackington said. He is nearing the end of the state’s two-term limit, however, meaning Rodden cannot seek re-election this year.
A doctor who was on the front lines fighting the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone has died from complications of the disease, Doctors Without Borders said Tuesday. Dr. Sheik Humarr Khan fell ill early last week while overseeing Ebola treatment at Kenema Government Hospital, about 185 miles east of Sierra Leone’s capital city, Freetown. He was treated by the French aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres — also known as Doctors Without Borders — in Kailahun, Sierra Leone, spokesman Tim Shenk said.
Ebola typically kills 90% of those infected, but the death rate in this outbreak has dropped to roughly 60% because of early treatment. The outbreak is happening primarily in three West African countries: Guinea, where it began, Liberia and Sierra Leone. As of July 23, the World Health Organization had confirmed more than 800 Ebola cases in the region, but it suspects there have been many unreported infections and there may be as many as 1,200 cases. Sierra Leone has been hardest hit, with approximately 525 cases. “Dr. Khan was an extremely determined and courageous doctor who cared deeply for his patients,” Doctors Without Borders said in a statement. “His work and dedication have been greatly appreciated by the medical community in Sierra Leone for many years. He will be remembered and missed by many, especially by the doctors and nurses that worked with him. MSF’s sincere thoughts and condolences are with Dr. Khan’s family, friends and colleagues.”
Patrick Sawyer, an American who worked for the Liberian Ministry of Finance, had one stop to make before heading home to Minnesota to celebrate his daughters’ birthdays: a conference in Lagos, Nigeria. when he landed in Lagos, Sawyer, 40, collapsed getting off the plane. He had been infected with Ebola in Liberia. Sawyer was isolated at a local Nigerian hospital on July 20. He died five days later. Sawyer’s wife Decontee Sawyer, lives in Coon Rapids, Minnesota, with the couple’s three young daughters, 5-year-old Eva, 4-year-old Mia, and Bella, who is 1. The Sawyers are naturalized citizens; their daughters were born in the United States. “He was so proud when he became a U.S. citizen,” Decontee told CNN. “He voted for first time in the last U.S. presidential election. He lived in the U.S. for many years, and wanted that for Liberia — a better democracy.”
Sawyer is the first American to die in what health officials are calling the “deadliest Ebola outbreak in history.” His death has sparked concerns that the virus could potentially spread to the United States. “People weren’t really taking it [Ebola] seriously until it hit Patrick,” Decontee said. “People are ready to take action.” Let’s take a step back and look at what we know about the Ebola outbreak: Up until this past week, the Ebola outbreak had been contained to three West African countries: Guinea, where it began, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Sawyer is the first known case outside of these three countries. As of July 23, the World Health Organization had confirmed more than 800 Ebola cases in the region, but suspects there have been many unreported infections and there may be more like 1,200 cases. Sierra Leone has been hardest hit with approximately 525 cases.
The World Health Organization says as of July 23, there have been 456 confirmed Ebola deaths, and another 216 suspected deaths, bringing the number possibly to more than 670. The country of Guinea has the most suspected deaths. The epidemic has been in that country longer. It is believed the epidemic began in the nation’s capital of Conakry. While international leaders have mobilized to fight the epidemic, it can be a difficult one to stop. It is so highly infectious that it typically kills 90% of those who catch it. The death rate in this particular outbreak had dropped to roughly 60% since it has been treated early in many instances. There is, however, no Ebola vaccination. Last week, two American aid workers in Liberia’s capital city, Monrovia, were confirmed to have the disease. Doctors and medical staff are particularly vulnerable to the virus because it spreads through exposure to bodily fluids from the infected. It can also spread through contact with an object contaminated by an infected person’s bodily fluids.
Dr. Kent Brantly, a 33-year-old Indianapolis resident, had been treating Ebola patients in Monrovia when he started to feel sick. Brantly works with Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian international relief agency. He has been the medical director for the Ebola Consolidated Case Management Center in Monrovia and has been working to help Ebola patients since October. After testing positive for Ebola, Brantly went into treatment at ELWA Hospital. Samaritan’s Purse has been working to evacuate him for better care, said Ken Isaacs, vice president of the agency. Unfortunately, emergency medical evacuation flights in the area are not equipped to handle the “intense isolation” required for an Ebola patient.
Brantly’s family had been with him in Liberia, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but left for the United States before he became symptomatic; as such it is highly unlikely that they caught the virus from him. Out of an abundance of caution they are on a 21-day fever watch, the CDC said. Nancy Writebol from Charlotte, North Carolina, has also been infected. She is employed by Serving in Mission, or SIM, and had teamed up with the staff from Samaritan’s Purse to help fight the Ebola outbreak in Monrovia when she got sick. She, too, is undergoing treatment. It is believed one of the local staff was infected with Ebola and came to work with the virus on Monday and Tuesday, Isaacs told CNN. “We think it was in the scrub-down area where the disease was passed to both Nancy and Kent,” he said. That staff member died on Thursday. Both Brantly and Writebol are stable, according to a statement released Tuesday by SIM, though both patients are still exhibiting symptoms of the virus. “Due to the upsurge in cases of Ebola in the region, SIM and Samaritan’s Purse have taken the precautionary step of mandating the evacuation of all nonessential personnel from Liberia,” the statement said. “Timing, means, and place of evacuation are being decided now.”
The CDC held a media briefing Monday to emphasize that there is “no significant risk” of an Ebola outbreak in the United States. There has never been a confirmed case of Ebola spreading to a developed country, said Kamiliny Kalahne, an epidemiologist with Doctors Without Borders. “This is because people generally transmit the infection when they are very sick, have a high fever and a lot of symptoms — and in these situations, they don’t travel. “And even if they do get sick once they travel to a developed country, they will be in a good hospital with good infection control, so they are very unlikely to infect others,” she said. The U.S. health care system is also better suited to handle an Ebola case than many in West Africa, said Dr. Marty Cetron, director of CDC’s Division of Global Migration and Quarantine. Health officials would likely recognize such a case and be able to trace all points of contact with the patient to prevent further transmission, he said. “Epidemics of disease are often followed by epidemics of fear and epidemics of stigma,” Cetron said. “All of these things occur in a social context that can make containment very challenging.”
Ebola is not contagious until symptoms appear. Symptoms of Ebola include fever, fatigue and headaches. These symptoms can appear two to 21 days after infection, meaning many who are sick don’t know it. The early symptoms then can progress to vomiting, diarrhea, impaired kidney and liver function, and sometimes internal and external bleeding. Avoiding these West African countries is the easiest way to prevent the outbreak from spreading, Cetron said. If you have traveled recently to the region and develop a fever, or other symptoms consistent with Ebola, notify your doctor right away. If you’re a humanitarian worker in the region, you need to be familiar with proper infection control precautions and avoid contact with blood or any other bodily fluids, he said. You should also report any needle sticks or possible exposures early to receive testing and, if necessary, start treatment as soon as possible. The Sawyer family is working with their church community to start “Concerned Liberians against Ebola,” Decontee said. Their goal is to raise $500,000 to help two international organizations: Samaritan’s Purse and Global Health Ministry.