Hong Kong: Jimmy Lai sentenced to 5 years and 9 months in prison for fraud
Today's headlines: truck drivers in South Korea have decided to end their strike; Ahmad Massoud says Afghanistan is a safe haven for terrorist groups; US downgraded relations with Myanmar; further crackdowns on freedom of expression in Vietnam; Turkey seeks gas discounts from Russia.
75-year-old, Jimmy Lai, founder of Hong Kong's most-read tabloid, the Apple Daily, which closed down about a year and a half ago has been sentenced to five years and nine months in prison for fraud. According to the authorities, he had illegally sublet office space in the 1990s. A separate trial in which Lai is accused of violating the National Security Act was due to begin on 1 December, but was postponed at the request of the city authorities. If convicted, he faces life imprisonment.
South Korean truck drivers decided to end their strike that had been going on since the end of November after pressure from the government and declining support from the public. The drivers demanded that a minimum transport tariff scheme be made permanent. Some unions will continue the minimum wage campaign.
National Resistance Front leader, Ahmad Massoud, says Afghanistan is becoming a safe haven for terrorist groups, citing information received from arms dealers. "We used to be the main and dominant buyers," he said speaking of the arms trade, "but we are very small, or probably one of the smallest buyers right now.
MYANMAR - USA
The US has downgraded diplomatic relations with Myanmar and will not renew the mandate of its ambassador next year. Meanwhile, attacks by the military coup junta continue: in three days, 20 villages in the central region of Sagaing have been burnt to the ground and at least 10,000 people have been added to the more than 1.4 million displaced in the country.
Vietnam is drawing up a blacklist of websites - including individual user accounts on YouTube and Facebook - that will be barred from receiving advertising revenue if they publish anti-government or 'toxic' content. This action is in addition to existing measures restricting freedom of expression and information in the country. The government has announced that it will also unveil a white list of safe sites to invest in in early 2023.
Since December, Russia's Tax Service has made agreements with some countries where Russians are transferring their financial assets, to exchange information on bank accounts and transactions. Currently, the Maldives, Oman and Kazakhstan have agreed, where over 200,000 Russians have obtained local tax codes.
TURKEY - RUSSIA
Turkey, which has become the largest customer of the Russian oil giant Gazprom, continues to ask for discounts on payments, taking into account that the price of gas has dropped by 25%, and not only for the supplies expected in 2023, but also for the balance of those received in the current year, which have exceeded 30 billion cubic metres, covering more than 50% of requirements.