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Briefs: Egypt hunger strike ends in freedom

| Wednesday, June 18, 2014, 5:51 p.m.

Egypt

Hunger strike ends in freedom

CAIRO — An Al-Jazeera Arabic service journalist who had been on a hunger strike for more than four months to protest his prolonged detention without charges in Egypt has been released in Cairo.

Abdullah Elshamy, 26, walked free late on Tuesday evening to cheers and hugs from family members, as well as dozens of friends and supporters. His mother, wife and brothers met him outside a police station in a northern Cairo suburb.

Egypt's prosecutor general had ordered his release, citing “health conditions” after 10 months in jail without charges.

Elshamy, once a chubby young man, looked gaunt and frail, and sported a bushy beard as he left the station in Nasr City, still dressed in a prison uniform.

“I have won,” he told reporters, despite pressure from prison authorities to end his strike, including keeping him in solitary confinement. “I have lost (99 pounds), but I was certain that God will make me victorious.”

Japan

Ban targets child porn

TOKYO — Japan's parliament has passed a law that bans possession of child pornography but excludes sexually explicit depictions of children in comics, animation and computer graphics.

The upper house voted on Wednesday to approve the law, which was passed by the lower house earlier this month.

Senegal

Ebola death toll at 337

DAKAR — An Ebola outbreak continues to spread in three West African countries, with more than 330 deaths reported, the World Health Organization said on Wednesday.

Health officials have struggled to contain what is one of the deadliest recorded outbreaks of Ebola. Most of the cases and deaths have been in Guinea, where the outbreak is believed to have begun.

In an update published on its website, the U.N. health agency said that more than 500 suspected or confirmed cases of the virus have been recorded. It said 337 reported deaths have been linked to the virus.

Daniel Bausch, director of the Emerging Infections Department at the U.S. Naval Medical Research unit in Peru, said this appeared to be the largest number of cases ever recorded.

Short takes

Vietnam: HANOI — A top Chinese diplomat and Vietnamese officials made no progress in talks about an increasingly bitter confrontation over a giant oil rig China deployed in the disputed South China Sea, officials said.

China: YULIN — Residents who have been under fire for their annual summer solstice festival in which thousands of dogs are slaughtered have held their canine feasts early to avoid protests by animal rights activists, state media reported.

Australia: CANBERRA — The growing number of Marines posted in Australia is enhancing the security of the nation's burgeoning gas industry, Marine Maj. Gen. Richard L. Simcock said. “We are very much aware that (gas platforms) could be considered strategic targets,” said Chevron Australia Pty. Ltd managing director Roy Krzywosinski.

Malaysia: KUALA LUMPUR — A wooden boat carrying Indonesians home in a storm sank in choppy seas off Malaysia's west coast, leaving 32 people missing and five dead, officials said. At least 60 survived.

— From wire reports

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