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WORLD IN BRIEF

Tuesday, December 21, 2004; Page A22

Head of Nuclear Agency Assails Eavesdropping

VIENNA -- Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog, said that any U.S. monitoring of his telephone calls would be a violation of his privacy and that he had nothing to hide, as the International Atomic Energy Agency acknowledged that it long suspected it was being spied on.

Commenting Sunday on reports that U.S. officials had tapped his phone conversations with Iranian officials, ElBaradei told Dubai-based al-Arabiya television that he had no secrets to conceal.

"Unfortunately if this is true, this is a breach of individual freedoms and rights of privacy and, more importantly, the right of international organizations to work independently," ElBaradei said.

"However . . . if anyone wants to listen in, then listen in. I don't have anything to hide," he added.

Officials have long suspected that foreign governments were tapping their phones, the spokesman for the IAEA, Mark Gwozdecky, said Monday.

"It's not the way we prefer to work, but it's a reality. We always worked on the assumption that one or more entities out there were trying to listen in on our discussions," Gwozdecky said. "If it's true, it would be an invasion of privacy."

The Washington Post reported earlier this month that U.S. officials had been listening in on phone calls between ElBaradei and Iranian officials for evidence of mistakes that could be used to force his ouster.

EUROPE

BUCHAREST, Romania -- Traian Basescu took office as Romania's third president since the Communist regime fell in 1989. He pledged to clean up rampant corruption and carry out reforms that will ready the country for European Union membership. Basescu, the mayor of Bucharest, replaced Ion Iliescu, who led Romania for 11 years.

THE AMERICAS

SANTIAGO, Chile -- Murder charges against former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in a major human rights case can proceed, an appeals court said in an unprecedented ruling immediately appealed to the Supreme Court.

The Santiago Appeals Court denied a defense motion filed last week seeking to stop the case against Pinochet, 89, who was still in the hospital after officials there said he suffered a mild stroke Saturday.

TORONTO -- Two brothers who ran a water system that became contaminated with E. coli bacteria, killing seven people and sickening 2,300, were sentenced for their role in one of Canada's worst public health disasters.

LIMA, Peru -- Forty-nine people, including four children, died when a bus plunged off a bridge into a river in Peru's northern jungle, police and bus company officials said. Another 15 people were injured in the accident, which occurred Sunday.

AFRICA

NEW YORK -- Fighting between factions of the Democratic Republic of the Congo's army and attacks on civilians have driven tens of thousands of people from their homes in the eastern part of the country and halted delivery of humanitarian aid to the region, the United Nations said.

ABUJA, Nigeria -- A tribunal upheld President Olusegun Obasanjo's victory last year in Nigeria's first civilian-run election, saying that some fraud had occurred but that it did not change the outcome of the vote.

-- From News Services


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