MOSCOW – Converting Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia monument from a museum to a mosque would be “unacceptable”, a senior official in the Russian Orthodox Church said on Saturday. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has proposed restoring the mosque status of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, a sixth century building at the heart of both the Christian Byzantine and Muslim Ottoman empires and now one of Turkey’s most visited monuments. “We can’t go back to the Middle Ages…"Russian Orthodox Church says ‘unacceptable’ to turn Hagia Sophia into a mosque: Ifax"
– Iranians who do not wear masks will be denied state services and workplaces that fail to comply with health protocols will be shut for a week, President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday as he launched new measures to try to curb the coronavirus. Iran has been battling the spread of the coronavirus, with the total number of cases hitting 237,878 on Saturday and a further 148 deaths bringing the country’s toll to 11,408, Health…"Iran imposes new curbs as coronavirus toll rises"
WASHINGTON – Global coronavirus cases exceeded 11 million on Friday, according to a tally, marking another milestone in the spread of the disease that has killed more than half a million people in seven months. The number of cases is more than double the figure for severe influenza illnesses recorded annually, according to the World Health Organization. Many hard-hit countries are easing lockdowns put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus while making…"Global coronavirus cases exceed 11 million"
SAO PAULO – Mass testing of food industry workers revealed an outbreak of novel coronavirus infections at plants operated by JBS SA and rival BRF SA in the Center West of Brazil, labor prosecutors in Mato Grosso do Sul state told on Friday, citing company data. Some 1,075 people at a JBS pork plant tested positive for COVID-19 as of July 1, representing 30% of total tests processed at its Dourados plant, the data revealed.…"Mass testing at JBS, BRF plants in Center West Brazil town reveals more than 1,000 COVID-19 cases"
ISTANBUL – A Turkish court on Friday sentenced a former local head of Amnesty International to more than six years in jail and convicted three other activists on terrorism-related charges for holding a meeting about digital security, the rights group said. Amnesty Turkey said on Twitter that seven other defendants, detained three years ago during a crackdown following an attempted coup in July 2016, were acquitted in a case which fuelled concern over Ankara’s human…"Turkish court convicts four rights activists on terrorism-related charges"
GENEVA – The World Health Organization expects initial results within two weeks from clinical trials it is conducting of drugs that might be effective in treating COVID-19 patients, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news briefing on Friday. Mike Ryan, head of the WHO’s emergencies programme, said it would be unwise to predict when a COVID-19 vaccine could be ready for mass distribution. While a vaccine candidate might show its effectiveness by year’s…"WHO sees first results from COVID drug trials within two weeks"
DUBAI – Iran will retaliate against any country that carries out cyber attacks on its nuclear sites, the head of civilian defence said, after a fire at its Natanz plant which some Iranian officials said may have been caused by cyber sabotage. The underground Natanz Fuel Enrichment Plant (FEP) is one of several Iranian facilities monitored by inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog. Iran’s top security body said on Friday…"Iran threatens retaliation after what it calls possible cyber attack on nuclear site"
ANKARA – Criticism of Turkey over the possible conversion of Istanbul’s landmark Hagia Sophia monument from a museum to a mosque “is an attack on Turkey’s sovereignty”, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday. Erdogan has proposed restoring the mosque status of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, a building at the heart of both the Christian Byzantine and Muslim Ottoman empires and today one of Turkey’s most visited monuments. “Accusations against our country about Hagia Sophia…"Turkey’s Erdogan rejects criticism over status of Hagia Sophia"
ISTANBUL – A Turkish court put 20 Saudi officials on trial in absentia on Friday for the gruesome killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi which sparked international outrage and tarnished the image of Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler. Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018 when he went there seeking papers for his marriage. Some Western governments, as well as the CIA, said they believed Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman…"Turkish court tries Saudis in absentia for Khashoggi killing"
ISTANBUL – Seven suspects went on trial in Turkey on Friday over their alleged involvement in former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn’s dramatic escape from Japan to Lebanon via Istanbul at the end of last year. Ghosn, once a titan of the global auto industry, had been arrested in Japan in late 2018 and charged with underreporting his salary and using company funds for personal purposes, charges he denies. The ousted chairman of the alliance of…"Suspects in Ghosn’s Japanese escape stand trial in Turkey"