U.S. Justice Department to propose changes to internet platforms immunity: source

By David Shepardson and Ayanti Bera

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Justice Department will unveil later on Wednesday a proposal that seeks to limit legal protections for internet platforms on managing content, a person briefed on the matter confirmed.

The proposal, which takes aim at Facebook Inc, Twitter Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google, would need congressional approval and is not likely to see action until next year at the earliest.

President Donald Trump in May signed an executive order that seeks new regulatory oversight of tech firms’ content moderation decisions and backed legislation to scrap or weaken the relevant provision in the 1996 Communications Decency Act, Section 230.

Trump will meet on Wednesday with a group of state attorneys general amid his criticism of social media companies. Twitter has repeatedly placed warning labels on Trump tweets, saying they have included potentially misleading information about mail-in voting.

Trump will meet with state attorneys general from Texas, Arizona, Utah, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, South Carolina and Missouri – like Trump, all Republicans – according to a person briefed on the matter.

“Online censorship goes far beyond the issue of free speech, it’s also one of protecting consumers and ensuring they are informed of their rights and resources to fight back under the law,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said on Monday.

Trump directed the Commerce Department to file a petition asking the Federal Communication Commission to limit protections under Section 230 after Twitter warned readers in May to fact-check his posts about unsubstantiated claims of fraud in mail-in voting. The petition is still pending.

A group representing major internet companies including Facebook, Amazon.com Inc and Google urged the FCC to reject the petition, saying it was “misguided, lacks grounding in law, and poses serious public policy concerns.”

The Wall Street Journal reported the planned Justice Department proposal earlier.

U.S. Justice Dept. weighs stripping federal funds from cities allowing ‘anarchy’

By Sarah N. Lynch

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Justice Department on Monday threatened to revoke federal funding for New York City, Seattle and Portland, Oregon, saying the three liberal cities were allowing anarchy and violence on their streets.

“We cannot allow federal tax dollars to be wasted when the safety of the citizenry hangs in the balance,” Attorney General William Barr said in a statement.

Spokespeople for the mayors’ offices in all three cities could not be immediately reached for comment.

Many cities across the United States have experienced unrest since the May death of George Floyd. In some cases the protests have escalated into violence and looting.

The federal government has mounted a campaign to disperse the racial justice protests, including by sending federal agents into Portland and Seattle and encouraging federal prosecutors to bring charges.

Last week, the Justice Department urged federal prosecutors to consider sedition charges against protesters who have burned buildings and engaged in other violent activity.

Monday’s threat to revoke federal funds was the government’s latest escalation in its quest to curb the protests.

It comes after President Donald Trump earlier this month issued a memo laying out criteria to consider when reviewing funding for states and cities that are “permitting anarchy, violence, and destruction in American cities.”

The criteria to make the president’s list include things such as whether a city forbids the police from intervening or if it defunds its police force.

In all three cities, the Justice Department said the leadership has rejected efforts to allow federal law enforcement officials to intervene and restore order, among other things.

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

U.S. charges seven in wide-ranging Chinese hacking effort

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Justice Department said on Wednesday it has charged five Chinese residents and two Malaysian businessmen in a wide-ranging hacking effort that encompassed targets from video games to pro-democracy activists.

Federal prosecutors said the Chinese nationals had been charged with hacking more than 100 companies in the United States and abroad, including software development companies, computer manufacturers, telecommunications providers, social media companies, gaming firms, nonprofits, universities, think-tanks as well as foreign governments and politicians and civil society figures in Hong Kong.

U.S. officials stopped short of alleging the hackers were working on behalf of Beijing, but in a statement Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen expressed exasperation with Chinese authorities, saying they were – at the very least – turning a blind eye to cyber-espionage.

“We know the Chinese authorities to be at least as able as the law enforcement authorities here and in like minded states to enforce laws against computer intrusions,” Rosen said. “But they choose not to.”

He further alleged that one of the Chinese defendants had boasted to a colleague that he was “very close” to China’s Ministry of State Security and would be protected “unless something very big happens.”

“No responsible government knowingly shelters cyber criminals that target victims worldwide in acts of rank theft,” Rosen said.

The Chinese Embassy in Washington did not immediately return an email seeking comment. Beijing has repeatedly denied responsibility for hacking in the face of a mounting pile of indictments from U.S. authorities.

Along with the alleged hackers, U.S. prosecutors also indicted two Malaysian businessmen, Wong Ong Hua, 46, and Ling Yang Ching, 32, who were charged with conspiring with two of the digital spies to profit from computer intrusions targeting video game companies in the United States, France, Japan, Singapore and South Korea.

The Justice Department said the pair operated through a Malaysian firm called SEA Gamer Mall. Messages left with the company were not immediately returned. Messages sent to email addresses allegedly maintained by the hackers also received no immediate response.

U.S. Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers said on Wednesday that the Malaysian defendants were in custody but were likely to fight extradition.

The Justice Department said it has obtained search warrants this month resulting in the seizure of hundreds of accounts, servers, domain names and “dead drop” Web pages used by the alleged hackers to help siphon data from their victims.

The Department said Microsoft Corp. had developed measures to block the hackers and that the company’s actions “were a significant part” of the overall U.S. effort to neutralize them. Microsoft did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

(Reporting by David Shepardson, Susan Heavey, Raphael Satter and Mark Hosenball in Washington; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Matthew Lewis)

U.S. Justice Department unveils reforms for FBI wiretap applications

By Sarah N. Lynch

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Justice Department said on Tuesday it was implementing new compliance reforms at the FBI to minimize errors when it applies for wiretaps, following revelations it made numerous mistakes during its probe into President Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign.

Attorney General William Barr released two new memos outlining sweeping changes, including the creation of a new internal auditing office as well as a list of additional steps the FBI must undertake before filing an application with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

Under the new protocol, if the FBI is seeking to monitor communications of an elected official or candidate, the director must first consider offering the target a defensive briefing, and the wiretap application must be approved by the Attorney General.

“The additional reforms announced today, which we worked on closely with the Attorney General’s office, will build on the FBI’s efforts to bolster its compliance program,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said in a statement.

The reforms could help take some heat off the bureau, which has been under fire for missteps in its early-stage investigation known as “Operation Crossfire Hurricane” into whether Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign colluded with Russia.

In December, the department’s inspector released a major report scrutinizing the FBI’s FISA applications to spy on Carter Page, a former Trump campaign adviser.

He uncovered 17 major mistakes in the FBI’s applications – errors that were so substantial, they prompted a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judge to issue a rare public rebuke of the FBI.

His findings have also since led to criminal charges against former FBI attorney Kevin Clinesmith, who in August pleaded guilty to doctoring in email used as a basis to renew an application to monitor Page.

Judge exempts journalists, legal observers from Portland protest dispersal orders

By Kanishka Singh

(Reuters) – A U.S. judge granted a preliminary injunction on Thursday against federal officers, exempting journalists and legal observers from orders to disperse after the officers declare riots at Portland protests.

The 61-page order prohibited federal officers from seizing any “photographic equipment, audio- or video recording equipment, or press passes” from reporters and legal observers.

A lawyer from the U.S. Justice Department had argued that the press does not hold any special right when police declare an unlawful assembly or riot and order crowds to break up.

“If military and law enforcement personnel can engage around the world without attacking journalists, the federal defendants can respect plaintiffs’ First Amendment rights in Portland,” U.S. District Judge Michael Simon said in the order filed in the United States District Court for Oregon.

Protests against racism and police brutality have swept the United States since the death on May 25 of George Floyd, a 46-year-old African-American man, after a white police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

The protests, including those in Portland, have occasionally erupted in arson and violence, and federal officers sent into the northwestern city have repeatedly clashed with crowds targeting its federal courthouse.

Portland Police had declared a riot for a second successive night on Wednesday and said they had fired crowd control munitions and tear gas to break up a gathering of about 200 people who threw rocks, lit fires and vandalized a U.S. immigration agency building.

Thursday’s order came in a class-action lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Foundation of Oregon, which called it “a crucial victory” for civil liberties and press freedom.

Separately on Thursday, Portland Police issued a timeline of protests, showcasing they had declared riots 17 times between May 29 and Aug. 19.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

U.S. accuses Chinese nationals of hacking spree for COVID-19 data, defense secrets

By Raphael Satter and Christopher Bing

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Justice Department on Tuesday indicted two Chinese nationals over their role in what the agency called a decade-long cyber espionage campaign that targeted defense contractors, COVID researchers and hundreds of other victims worldwide.

U.S. authorities said Li Xiaoyu and Dong Jiazhi stole terabytes of weapons designs, drug information, software source code, and personal data from targets that included dissidents and Chinese opposition figures. The cyber criminals were contractors for the Chinese government, rather than full-fledged spies, U.S. officials said.

U.S. Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers said at a virtual press conference the hackings showed China “is willing to turn a blind eye to prolific criminal hackers operating within its borders.”

“In this manner, China has now taken its place, alongside Russia, Iran, and North Korea, in that shameful club of nations that provides safe haven for cyber criminals in exchange for those criminals being on call for the benefit of the state.”

Messages left with one of several accounts registered in the name of Li’s digital alias, oro0lxy, were not immediately returned. Reuters could not immediately locate contact details for Dong. The Chinese Embassy in Washington did not immediately return a message seeking comment, although Beijing has repeatedly denied hacking the United States.

The indictment mostly did not name any companies or individual targets, but U.S. Attorney William Hyslop, who spoke alongside Demers, said there were “hundreds and hundreds of victims in the United States and worldwide.” Officials said the investigation was triggered when the hackers broke into a network belonging to the Hanford Site, a decommissioned U.S. nuclear complex in eastern Washington state, in 2015.

Li and Dong were “one of the most prolific group of hackers we’ve investigated,” said FBI Special Agent Raymond Duda, who heads the agency’s Seattle field office.

A July 7 indictment made public on Tuesday alleges that Li and Dong were contractors for China’s Ministry of State Security, or MSS, a comparable agency to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. The MSS, prosecutors said, supplied the hackers with information into critical software vulnerabilities to penetrate targets and collect intelligence. Targets included Hong Kong protesters, the office of the Dalai Lama and a Chinese Christian non-profit.

As early as Jan. 27, as the coronavirus outbreak was coming into focus, the hackers were trying to steal COVID-19 vaccine research of an unidentified Massachusetts biotech firm, the indictment said.

It is unclear whether anything was stolen but one expert said the allegation shows the “extremely high value” that governments such as China placed on COVID-related research.

“It is a fundamental threat to all governments around the world and we expect information relating to treatments and vaccines to be targeted by multiple cyber espionage sponsors,” said Ben Read, a senior analyst at cyber-security company FireEye.

He noted that the Chinese government had long relied on contractors for its cyber-spying operations.

“Using these freelancers allows the government to access a wider array of talent, while also providing some deniability in conducting these operations,” Read said.

(Reporting by Chris Sanders; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Richard Chang)

U.S. moves to drop case against Trump ex-adviser Flynn

By Sarah N. Lynch

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Justice Department on Thursday abruptly asked a judge to drop criminal charges against Donald Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn following mounting pressure from the Republican president and his political allies on the right.

The move drew furious criticism from congressional Democrats and others who accused the department and Attorney General William Barr of politicizing the U.S. criminal justice system by bending to Trump’s wishes and improperly protecting his friends and associates in criminal cases.

Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general who served as an adviser to Trump during the 2016 campaign, had been seeking to withdraw his 2017 guilty plea in which he admitted to lying to the FBI about his interactions with Russia’s U.S. ambassador Sergey Kislyak in the weeks before Trump took office.

The Justice Department filed a motion to dismiss the charges with U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan, who has presided over the case and has a reputation for fierce independence. Judges generally grant such motions, but Sullivan could demand answers from the department about its reversal or even deny the motion and sentence Flynn, a less likely scenario.

Sullivan at a 2018 hearing expressed “disgust” and “disdain” toward Flynn’s criminal offense, saying: “Arguably, you sold your country out.”

Trump, who had publicly attacked the case against Flynn and has frequently castigated the FBI, said he was “very happy” for his former aide, adding: “Yes, he was a great warrior, and he still is a great warrior. Now in my book he’s an even greater warrior.” Trump said in March he was considering a full pardon and accused the FBI and Justice Department of having “destroyed” Flynn’s life and that of his family.

Flynn was one of several former Trump aides charged under former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation that detailed Moscow’s interference in the 2016 U.S. election to boost Trump’s candidacy and contacts between Trump’s campaign and Russia. Trump’s longtime friend and adviser Roger Stone and his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort both were convicted and sentenced to multi-year prison terms.

The Justice Department said in its filing it was no longer persuaded that the FBI’s Jan. 24, 2017 Flynn interview that underpinned the charges was conducted with a “legitimate investigative basis” and did not think his statements were “material even if untrue.”

“A crime has not been established here. They did not have the basis for a counterintelligence investigation against Flynn at that stage,” Barr said in a CBS interview. Asked about the fact that Flynn lied to investigators, Barr said: “Well, people sometimes plead to things that turn out not to be crimes.”

In a filing, Flynn’s lawyers agreed with the department’s motion to dismiss the charges.

It marked the latest instance of the department under Barr, a Trump political loyalist, changing course under public pressure from the president to go light on one of his allies. In February, Barr and other senior department officials abandoned a tough sentencing recommendation by their own career prosecutors in Stone’s case after Trump publicly lashed out at the prosecution team. The prosecutors quit the case in protest.

Shortly before the Flynn motion was filed on Thursday, career prosecutor Brandon Van Grack withdrew from the case and other related legal matters. He remains a Justice Department employee, a department spokeswoman said.

‘WITHOUT PRECEDENT’

Trump critics have accused him of becoming emboldened after his February acquittal in his Senate impeachment trial and interfering in cases involving people close to him.

“Flynn PLEADED GUILTY to lying to investigators. The evidence against him is overwhelming,” Jerrold Nadler, the Democratic chairman of the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, wrote on Twitter. “The decision to overrule the special counsel is without precedent and warrants an immediate explanation.”

“We have to be deeply skeptical that this is anything other than a further capturing of our criminal justice system for the benefit of the president,” added Noah Bookbinder, a former prosecutor who now heads the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics advocacy group.

Seth Waxman, another former prosecutor now in private practice, added, “To have the case dismissed like this raises a lot of uncertainty for the institution of the Department of Justice.”

Barr was appointed by Trump long after Flynn was charged. Barr three months ago named Jeffrey Jensen, a U.S. attorney in Missouri, to review the case. Jensen said he “concluded the proper and just course was to dismiss the case.”

Trump fired Flynn after only 24 days on the job when it emerged that Flynn had misled Vice President Mike Pence and the FBI about his Kislyak dealings.

According to the indictment, Flynn in December 2016 – after Trump won the election but before he took office – discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with Kislyak and asked him to help delay a U.N. vote seen as damaging to Israel, a move contrary to then-President Barack Obama’s policies.

Flynn was supposed to cooperate with prosecutors under his plea deal. But he switched lawyers and said prosecutors had tricked him into lying about his Kislyak conversations.

Pressure from Trump allies to drop the charges intensified last week after partially redacted documents turned over to Flynn’s defense showed more about the FBI’s thinking before interviewing Flynn.

An unidentified FBI agent wrote: “What is our goal? Truth/admission or to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired?”

Flynn’s allies have argued those documents show the FBI was out to get him.

“The government has concluded that the interview of Mr. Flynn was untethered to, and unjustified by, the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into Mr. Flynn – a no longer justifiably predicated investigation,” the Justice Department wrote in Thursday’s filing.

Prosecutors asked the judge in January to sentence Flynn to up to six months in prison, saying he “has not learned his lesson” and acts like “the law does not apply” to him.

His sentencing has been deferred several times.

Flynn previously headed the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency but he was forced out in 2014 in part due to his management style and opinions on how to combat Islamist militancy. He joined Trump’s 2016 campaign and at the Republican National Convention led chants of “Lock her up,” referring to Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Additional reporting by Steve Holland, Jan Wolfe, Richard Cowan, and Alistair Bell; Editing by Scott Malone, Will Dunham and Peter Cooney)

FBI needs to do more to fight domestic extremist threats, watchdog says

By Andy Sullivan and Mark Hosenball

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The FBI has not done enough to fight homegrown extremist threats and has yet to figure out how to determine whether people it investigates who have mental health issues pose an actual threat to national security, the U.S. Justice Department’s internal watchdog said on Wednesday.

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz also found that the FBI did not follow up on some cases that had been flagged as potential threats.

The report found shortcomings in the FBI’s efforts to prevent mass attacks by U.S. residents who have been inspired by international militant groups like Islamic State and al Qaeda, which the agency says its highest counterterrorism priority.

The FBI did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

So-called homegrown violent extremists have carried out more than 20 attacks in the United States since Sept. 11, 2001 – some perpetrated by people the FBI had already investigated.

Horowitz found that the FBI conducted reviews after those attacks to find out what it had missed, but didn’t make sure that agents followed through with its proposed improvements.

The FBI concluded in 2017 that it should have conducted about 6 percent of its counterterrorism assessments more thoroughly. But the agency did not re-examine nearly half of those cases for 18 months, Horowitz wrote.

(Reporting by Andy Sullivan and Mark Hosenball; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Jonathan Oatis)

Mistakes, but no political bias in FBI probe of Trump campaign: watchdog

By Sarah N. Lynch, Andy Sullivan and Mark Hosenball

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Justice Department’s internal watchdog said on Monday that it found numerous errors but no evidence of political bias by the FBI when it opened an investigation into contacts between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia in 2016.

The report by Inspector General Michael Horowitz gave ammunition to both Trump’s supporters and his Democratic critics in the debate about the legitimacy of an investigation that clouded the first two years of his presidency.

It will not be the last word on the subject.

Federal prosecutor John Durham, who is running a separate criminal investigation on the origins of the Russia probe, said he did not agree with some of the report’s conclusions.

Horowitz found that the FBI had a legal “authorized purpose” to ask for court approval to begin surveillance of Carter Page, a former Trump campaign adviser.

But he also found a total of 17 “basic and fundamental” errors and omissions in its applications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) that made the case appear stronger than it was.

For example, the FBI continued to rely on information assembled by a former British intelligence officer named Christopher Steele in its warrant applications even after one of Steele’s sources told the agency that his statements had been mischaracterized or exaggerated.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, a Republican, said that effectively turned the investigation into a “criminal enterprise” to defraud the court and violate Page’s rights.

“I don’t fault anybody for looking into allegations like this. I do fault them for lying and misrepresenting to the court,” said Graham, who will hold a hearing on Wednesday examining the report’s findings.

The report also singled out an FBI lawyer for altering an email in a renewal of the warrant application to claim that Page was not a source for another U.S. government agency, when in fact he did work from 2008 to 2013 with another agency that was not identified in the report. The lawyer, identified by Republicans as Kevin Clinesmith, did not respond to a request for comment.

Democrats said the report showed that there was no basis for Trump’s repeated charges that the FBI was trying to undermine his chances of winning the White House.

“This report conclusively debunks the baseless conspiracy that the investigations into Mr. Trump’s campaign and its ties to Russia originated with political bias,” Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said at a news conference.

Trump called the investigation a witch hunt and assailed FBI leaders and career staffers who worked on it.

“This was an attempted overthrow and a lot of people were in on it, and they got caught,” Trump told reporters at the White House.

The FBI investigation was taken over in May 2017 by former FBI chief Robert Mueller after Trump fired James Comey as the agency’s director.

“Those who attacked the FBI for two years should admit they were wrong,” Comey said in a Washington Post op-ed.

Mueller’s 22-month special counsel investigation detailed a Russian campaign of hacking and propaganda to sow discord in the United States and help Trump defeat Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Mueller documented numerous contacts between Trump campaign figures and Moscow but found insufficient evidence of a criminal conspiracy.

Attorney General William Barr, who ordered the Durham investigation, said the report showed that the FBI launched its investigation “on the thinnest of suspicions.”

FBI Director Christopher Wray said he had ordered dozens of revisions to fix problems highlighted in the report, such as changes to warrant applications and methods for dealing with informants. The FBI would review the conduct of employees mentioned in the report, he said.

Horowitz said his office on Monday began a new review to further scrutinize the FBI’s compliance with its own fact-checking policies used to get applications to surveil U.S. persons in counterterrorism investigations, as well as counterintelligence probes.

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Additional reporting by Mark Hosenball, Brad Heath and Andy Sullivan; Writing by Andy Sullivan; Editing by Will Dunham, Jonathan Oatis, Grant McCool and Cynthia Osterman)

U.S. Justice Department Russia probe review now criminal investigation: source

U.S. Justice Department Russia probe review now criminal investigation: source
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A U.S. Justice Department review of the origins of the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election is now a criminal investigation, a person familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

The person, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity, declined to say whether a grand jury had been convened in the investigation, which was first reported by the New York Times.

U.S. Attorney General William Barr launched a review earlier this year to investigate President Donald Trump’s complaints that his campaign was improperly targeted by U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies during the 2016 election.

Democrats and some former law enforcement officials say Barr is using the Justice Department to chase unsubstantiated conspiracy theories that could benefit the Republican president politically and undermine former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

The Democratic chairmen of the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees blasted the reported move, saying it raised “profound new concerns” that Barr had turned the department into “a vehicle for President Trump’s political revenge.”

“If the Department of Justice may be used as a tool of political retribution or to help the President with a political narrative for the next election, the rule of law will suffer new and irreparable damage,” Representatives Jerrold Nadler and Adam Schiff said in a statement late Thursday night.

As part of his inquiry, Barr has asked Australian and British justice officials for assistance and visited Italy twice, meeting intelligence agents in Rome in August and September to learn more about people mentioned in Mueller’s report. Trump has also contacted foreign officials over the review, the department has said.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte this week said that the meetings established that Italy had no information in the matter and was not involved. A letter reviewed by Reuters showed Australia offered to assist in May.

Mueller’s investigation found that Moscow interfered in the 2016 election to help Trump, and led to criminal convictions of several former campaign aides. But Mueller concluded that he did not have enough evidence to establish a criminal conspiracy with Russia.

Barr appointed Connecticut State Attorney John Durham to lead the review of whether U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies acted properly when they examined possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, which ultimately led to the Mueller investigation.

Trump, who calls the Russia investigation a witch hunt and a hoax, says U.S. officials launched the probe to undermine his chances of winning the White House, although he and his supporters have provided no evidence.

Trump is also grappling with a Democratic-led impeachment inquiry focused on his request in a July telephone call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, who is a leading contender for the Democratic presidential nomination to face Trump in the 2020 election.

Schiff is leading the impeachment inquiry being conducted along with the House foreign Affairs and Oversight panels.

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Writing by Mohammad Zargham and Susan Heavey; Editing by Eric Beech, Peter Cooney and Giles Elgood)