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Trial by Fire - Did Texas execute an innocent man?

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The fire moved quickly through the house, a one-story wood-frame structure in a working-class neighborhood of Corsicana, in northeast Texas. Flames spread along the walls, bursting through doorways, blistering paint and tiles and furniture. Smoke pressed against the ceiling, then banked downward, seeping into each room and through crevices in the windows, staining the morning sky.
Buffie Barbee, who was eleven years old and lived two houses down, was playing in her back yard when she smelled the smoke. She ran inside and told her mother, Diane, and they hurried up the street; that’s when they saw the smoldering house and Cameron Todd Willingham standing on the front porch, wearing only a pair of jeans, his chest blackened with soot, his hair and eyelids singed. He was screaming, “My babies are burning up!” His children—Karmon and Kameron, who were one-year-old twin girls, and two-year-old Amber—were trapped inside.
Willingham told the Barbees to call the Fire Department, and while Dia…

China Sentences Man to Death for Espionage, Saying He Sold Secrets

BEIJING — In a sign of China’s increasingly aggressive efforts to combat espionage and other security threats, the government said it had sentenced a former computer technician to death for selling 150,000 classified documents to foreign spies, according to state media reports on Tuesday.

The man, Huang Yu, 41, worked for a research institute specializing in cryptography in Chengdu, a city in southwestern China

He sold the materials, which included military codes, from 2002 to 2011, making about $700,000, the state-run broadcaster China Central Television reported. The government did not specify which spy agencies he had assisted.

Mr. Huang’s death sentence was the first known case of a Chinese citizen’s receiving the death penalty for espionage since 2008, when the government executed a biomedical researcher and a distant relative of his, accusing them of passing secrets to Taiwan.

The trove of information Mr. Huang is accused of selling, including 90 top-secret documents, is one of the largest known leaks in China in recent years, national security experts said.

Under President Xi Jinping, China has sought to rally the public behind the cause of catching foreign and domestic spies. Last week, China celebrated its first National Security Education Day, and security officials have established an anti-spying hotline.

In 2014, Mr. Xi signed a counterespionage law to more extensively track foreign spies and Chinese citizens who assist them. Last year, the government approved a sweeping national security law, broadening the definition of what constituted a violation.


Source: The New York Times, April 19, 2016

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