LE PEN TRIES TO PLAY DOWN BANNON MOVEMENT LINKS
French far-right leader Marine Le Pen has distanced herself from former White House strategist Steve Bannon, saying only Europeans will save the continent. Le Pen said, at a meeting in Rome, that she wanted to clarify “lots of conjecture” about Bannon’s reported plans to set up a foundation, The Movement, to boost far-right parties in Europe. Speaking with rightwing Italian interior minister Matteo Salvini by her side, Le Pen said Bannon is not European, but rather an American who wants to create a think-tank to offer research to nationalist parties in Europe. “But we, and we alone, are the ones who will shape the political force that is born from the European elections,” she said. “Because we are attached to our liberty, attached to our sovereignty and we together, the representatives of the different peoples of Europe, are the ones who will shape the political forces that aim specifically to save Europe.” Le Pen’s distancing was significant given that Bannon has been making the rounds in Europe of late as part of his push for a trans-national, anti-european Union movement.
HUNT FOR MISSING JOURNALIST TURNS FOCUS ON SAUDIS
The search for missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi will include the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. The announcement came as a surveillance image surfaced of Washington
Post contributor Khashoggi walking into the consulate just before he disappeared. Turkish officials fear the columnist was killed at the premises. Saudi Arabia has called allegations that it killed the 59-year-old “baseless” but has offered no evidence to show he left the building. US president Donald Trump has expressed concern about the writer’s disappearance, and secretary of state Mike Pompeo said US officials have raised the matter with their Saudi counterparts. “We call on the government of Saudi Arabia to support a thorough investigation of Mr Khashoggi’s disappearance and to be transparent about the results of that investigation,” Pompeo said. A statement from the Turkish Foreign Ministry said Saudi authorities have notified Ankara that they were “open to co-operation” and would allow the consulate building to be searched. Meanwhile a Turkish newspaper has published the names and photographs of 15 Saudi nationals who allegedly arrived in Istanbul on two private jets the day the journalist disappeared. The Sabah revealed the identities of what it called a “mysterious” 15-member “assassination squad”.
DOCTOR ABDUCTED NEWBORN BABY 50 YEARS AGO
A Spanish court has ruled that a doctor stole a newborn child nearly five decades ago, one of many abducted during Spain’s 20th century dictatorship. But the court cleared Eduardo
Vela because the statute of limitations had expired. The court said the 85-year-old former gynaecologist Eduardo Vela could not be punished because the accuser, Ines Madrigal, did not make her complaint until 2012. The court did find, however, that Vela was responsible for abducting Madrigal in 1969, faking her birth by her adoptive parents and forging official documents. The verdict is Spain’s first in relation to the abduction of thousands of children during the country’s Civil War and the decades of General Francisco Franco’s dictatorship that followed. Vela, who was the director of a Madrid clinic considered at the epicentre of the scandal, denied the accusations during this year’s trial.