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'Express lane to death': Texas seeks approval to speed up death penalty appeals, execute more quickly

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Texas is seeking to speed up executions with a renewed request to opt-in to a federal law that would shorten the legal process and limit appeals options for death-sentenced prisoners.
Defense attorneys worry it would lead to the execution of innocent people and - if it's applied retroactively, as Texas is requesting - it could potentially end ongoing appeals for a number of death row prisoners and make them eligible for execution dates.
"Opt-in would speed up the death penalty treadmill exponentially," said Kathryn Kase, an longtime defense attorney and former executive director of Texas Defender Services.
But a state attorney general spokeswoman framed the request to the Justice Department as a necessary way to avoid "stressful delays" and cut down on the "excessive costs" of lengthy federal court proceedings.
Robbie Kaplan, co-founder of the #TimesUp movement, says sweeping changes to laws in recent years have dissuaded attorneys from taking on har…

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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