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News Wrap: Americans Jailed in Pakistan Claim Torture

January 18, 2010 at 12:00 AM EDT
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In other news, five American Muslims jailed in Pakistan on terrorism charges said in court Monday they have been tortured, and the president of Ukraine has been eliminated from the country's presidential election.
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HARI SREENIVASAN: Five Americans made an appearance before a special antiterrorism court in Pakistan today, and said they have been tortured. The men, all young Muslims from the Washington, D.C., area, have been in custody since December on suspicion of planning attacks inside Pakistan.

As their prison van drove by reporters, they shouted, “We’re being tortured.” Prison officials and police refuted those claims.

The president of Ukraine, Viktor Yushchenko, was eliminated from that country’s presidential contest over the weekend. He was one of the architects of the so-called Orange Revolution five years ago, but won only 5 percent in the first round of voting.

Opposition leader Viktor Yanukovych, who lost the presidency to Yushchenko in 2005, had the lead. His closest challenger was Prime Minister and Orange heroine Yulia Tymoshenko. They will face each other in a runoff set for February 7.

In Chile, Sunday’s presidential election brought the first political shift to the right since General Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship ended in 1990. Sebastian Pinera, a billionaire conservative, won almost 52 percent of the runoff vote. His supporters rallied in streets across the country. Pinera campaigned on a vow to overhaul the Chilean state, create a million jobs, and boost economic growth.

The man who shot Pope John Paul II nearly 30 years ago was released from a Turkish prison today. Mehmet Ali Agca was freed after serving out his full prison term for attempting to assassinate the pope. The 52-year-old was swarmed by media as he distributed a statement proclaiming the end of the world and calling himself a messenger of God. Turkish officials plan to monitor Agca over concerns about his mental health.

Martin Luther King Jr. was remembered across the U.S. today. In Atlanta, the annual memorial service was held at Ebenezer Baptist Church, where the slain civil rights leader preached for eight years. Marches to honor his legacy were held, no matter the weather, from Detroit, to Raleigh, North Carolina, to Los Angeles.

And, in Washington, President Obama and his family marked the national day of service by serving lunch to the needy. Later, the president called on Americans to help their communities all year long.

U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Part of what the civil rights movement was all about was changing people’s hearts and minds and breaking out of old customs and old habits.

And that’s, I think, an important lesson for all of us on this day, is, are there things that we can try to do that might have seemed impossible, but we know are worth doing? And can we apply those principles that we know to be true in our own lives and in our society?

HARI SREENIVASAN: Yesterday, President Obama spoke at a Baptist church in Washington to remember the work of Dr. King. He urged people to keep faith, especially in hard times.

Those are some of the day’s main stories. I will be back at the end of the program with a preview of what you will find tonight on the “NewsHour”‘s Web site — but, for now, back to Ray.