DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – A leading Saudi women's rights activist who's been imprisoned for 21/2 years and drawn attention to the kingdom's hard limits on dissent will be tried by a court established to oversee terrorism cases, her family said Wednesday.
The referral of Loujain al-Hathloul's case to the Specialized Criminal Court is a setback for efforts to push for her swift release and means she will face charges related to terrorism and national security. The court is notorious for its secretive nature. A range of cases are brought before the court under broadly worded counter-terrorism laws that criminalize acts such as insulting the government and “disobeying the ruler.”
Bus strikes truck in Brazil; 40 dead
A bus carrying employees of a textile company and a truck collided on a highway in Brazil's Sao Paulo state early Wednesday, killing 40 people, officials said.
Rescuers were helping the wounded and passengers caught in the wreckage of the vehicles in the municipality of Taguaí, about 215 miles from the city of Sao Paulo. Television images showed shards of glass, destroyed bus seats and pieces of the vehicles' bodies strewn on the highway.
Iran frees Aussie held for 2 years
Iran on Wednesday freed a British-Australian academic who had been detained in the country for over two years, in exchange for three Iranians held abroad, state TV announced.
Kylie Moore-Gilbert, 33, was a Melbourne University lecturer on Middle Eastern studies when she was picked up at the Tehran airport while trying to leave the country. She was sent to Tehran's Evin prison, convicted of spying and sentenced to 10 years behind bars.
Thailand protests resume; risks rise
Pro-democracy demonstrators in Thailand took to the streets of the capital again Wednesday as the government escalated its legal battle against them, reviving the use of a harsh law against defaming the monarchy.
Their rally was peaceful, but less than two hours after it was declared over and many in the crowd were lingering, a man was shot and wounded, according to initial reports of emergency service personnel and witnesses' accounts and photos posted on social media.
Ethiopian leader rejects pressure
Ethiopia's prime minister is rejecting growing international consensus for dialogue and a halt to deadly fighting in the Tigray region as “unwelcome,” saying his country will handle the conflict on its own as a 72-hour surrender ultimatum ran out Wednesday.
The Tigray regional capital, Mekele, remained quiet but tense as sunset approached. The government led by Abiy, last year's Nobel Peace Prize winner, has warned Mekele's half-million residents to move away from the Tigray People's Liberation Front leaders or there will be “no mercy.”
French lawmakers defend Armenians
The French Senate voted Wednesday to urge the government to recognize the disputed Caucasus region of Nagorno-Karabakh as an independent republic.
The symbolic resolution sends a message of support to France's large Armenian community. No country recognizes the region, which Armenia and Azerbaijan have been at odds over for decades, as independent.
The vote comes as the French government, French towns and aid groups have stepped up aid efforts in recent days for people fleeing the battle-torn region.
Power, heat lack after ice storm
Thousands of people in Russia's Far East remained without heat or electricity Wednesday as authorities and emergency services wrestled with the consequences of an unprecedented ice storm that hit last week.
The Primorye region was hit by freezing rain Nov. 18, and thousands woke up in dark, cold apartments the next day. Thick layers of ice covered trees, cars, roads and power lines, many of which broke under the weight.