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Dubai’s Sheikh Mohammed ordered phones of ex-wife, lawyers to be hacked – UK court

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(Last Updated On: October 8, 2021)

Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum ordered the phones of his ex-wife and her lawyers to be hacked as part of a “sustained campaign of intimidation and threat” during the custody battle over their children, England’s High Court has ruled, Reuters reported.

Mohammed used the sophisticated “Pegasus” software, developed by Israeli firm NSO for states to counter national security risks, to hack the phones of Princess Haya bint al-Hussein, half-sister of Jordan’s King Abdullah, and some of those closely connected to her, according to the rulings.

According to the report those working for him also tried to buy a mansion next door to Haya’s estate near the British capital, intimidatory action the court ruled that left her feeling hunted, unsafe and feeling like she “cannot breathe anymore.”

The latest rulings come 19 months after the court concluded that Mohammed had abducted two of his daughters, mistreated them and held them against their will.

Mohammed, 72, and Haya, 47, have been involved in a long, bitter and expensive custody battle since she fled to Britain with their two children, Jalila, 13, and Zayed, 9.

Reporting restrictions on the findings of judge Andrew McFarlane, President of the Family Division in England and Wales, were lifted on Wednesday (October 6) after a year of hearings, read the report.

The legal costs of the case have run into millions of pounds, with the case involving some of Britain’s most prominent lawyers.

The costs of one appeal alone was cited by the court as costing 2.5 million pounds.

Among those targeted by the hacking was Haya’s lawyer Fiona Shackleton, a member of Britain’s House of Lords who represented British heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles in his divorce from his late first wife Princess Diana.

The activity came to light in August last year after Shackleton was urgently tipped off by Cherie Blair, the wife of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, that she and Haya had been hacked, the court was told.

Blair is also a prominent lawyer who worked as an external adviser for NSO, Reuters reported.

The sheikh, who is vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, initially sought to have the children brought back to Dubai, but has since suffered repeated defeats in the English courts.

In a judgment released on Wednesday, McFarlane ruled that the children should live with their mother.

The sheikDubai’s Sheikh Mohammed h had denied the allegations of hacking and his lawyers had argued other countries in the Middle East could have been to blame.

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Three students shot dead, 8 wounded in Michigan school shooting

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(Last Updated On: December 1, 2021)

A 15-year-old boy opened fire in a Michigan high school on Tuesday with a semi-automatic pistol his father had purchased days earlier, killing three fellow students and wounding eight other people before he was arrested, authorities said.

Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard told a news briefing hours after the rampage at Oxford High School that investigators were at a loss to explain what might have precipitated “an unspeakable and unforgivable” act of violence, Reuters reported.

The suspect, disarmed and taken into custody by sheriff’s deputies minutes after the shooting began, has declined to speak with investigators after his parents retained a lawyer and denied authorities permission to interview their son, Bouchard said.

“The person who’s got the most insight on motive is not talking,” the sheriff told reporters.

Bouchard said he was unaware of any previous run-ins with law enforcement by the suspect adding there was “nothing to suggest that there had been disciplinary issues or problems with him at school.”

The bloodshed unfolded around midday in Oxford, Michigan, about 65 km north of Detroit, as terrified students and teachers taking cover inside the school flooded the county emergency dispatch center with more than 100 calls for assistance, authorities said.

Bouchard said his deputies confronted the young suspect advancing down a hallway toward them with a loaded weapon, when he put his hands over his head and surrendered.

Three students died in the shooting spree – a 16-year-old boy who succumbed to his wounds en route to a hospital in a patrol car, and two girls, aged 14 and 17, authorities said.

Of the eight others struck by gunfire, seven were students, two of them hospitalized with gunshot wounds to the head.

At least two girls, aged 14 and 17, were described by Bouchard as critically wounded with chest wounds.

A teacher was also treated for a shoulder wound and later discharged.

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Iran nuclear talks resume in Vienna

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(Last Updated On: November 30, 2021)

Talks between Tehran and world powers to revive a 2015 nuclear deal have resumed in Vienna, Iran’s state news agency IRNA reported on Monday.

“The new round of the Joint Commission has started at the Palais Coburg in Vienna,” IRNA reported.

The Commission comprises Russia, China, Germany, Britain, France and Iran, signatories to the nuclear deal that the United States abandoned three years ago.

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Woman arrested after setting fire to Australian quarantine hotel room

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(Last Updated On: November 29, 2021)

Australian police are expecting to charge a woman with arson after she set fire to a quarantine hotel facility in Cairns, Queensland, with her two children inside on Sunday.

No one was injured in the fire but over 100 people needed to be evacuated after the 31-year-old mother was alleged to have started the fire in her room.

Video obtained by Reuters showed black smoke billowing out of a rooftop hotel room as fire ladders were extended to put out the fire.

“There was a smell like burnt plastic,” Sarah Orton, a resident of Toowoomba in Queensland, told Reuters.

“Police were very quick to arrive on scene and cordon off the area.”

“The 31-year-old female had been in quarantine for a couple of days and we did have some issues with that female occupant that we were managing,” acting chief superintendent, Chris Hodgman told reporters in Cairns.

Hodgman added that the woman’s two children were being cared for by police.

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