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NATION IN BRIEF

Wednesday, December 22, 2004; Page A28

Democrats Claim Wash. Governorship

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- The head of the state Democratic Party said late Tuesday that recount results from King County give Democrat Christine Gregoire an eight-vote victory in the closest governor's race in state history.

Neither King County nor Republican officials could confirm the hand recount results. Republican Dino Rossi won the first count by 261 votes and won a machine recount by 42 votes. A second recount was scheduled to be completed by Wednesday.

"We're confident Christine Gregoire has been elected the governor of the state of Washington," Democratic Chairman Paul Berendt said. "I believe Dino Rossi should concede."

Berendt and Democratic Party officials reached their conclusion after crunching numbers supplied by King County. The county has finished tallying its 900,000 ballots, but election officials said they still need to reconcile differences in the precinct totals.

"We are not releasing our results until tomorrow at 3:30 p.m.," said King County Elections spokeswoman Bobbie Egan, who confirmed that both parties received the recount data Tuesday.

Rossi spokeswoman Mary Lane said Republicans are looking at the data but had not drawn any conclusions. "It's just too close to call," she said.

Marine's Desertion Hearing Delayed

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- A military hearing to examine desertion charges against Marine Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun, 24, who disappeared from his post in Iraq for nearly three weeks this summer, was postponeduntil Jan. 13 after he asked to add a civilian lawyer to his defense team.

Hassoun, of West Jordan, Utah, has denied deserting his post at a U.S. military camp near Fallujah in June, saying he was abducted by enemy fighters and held against his will for 19 days. He was initially thought to have deserted, but Pentagon officials later classified him as captured after a videotape on a Web site showed Hassoun blindfolded with a large knife positioned over his head.

Statements on two Islamic Web sites said Hassoun had been beheaded.

But an extremist group later said that it had released him after securing his promise that he would not rejoin U.S. military forces to fight.

On July 8, Hassoun surfaced unhurt in his family's home town of Tripoli, Lebanon, about 50 miles north of Beirut.

Terror-Funding Indictments Restored

SAN FRANCISCO -- A federal appeals court reinstated indictments against seven defendants accused of raising money for a terrorist organization with links to ousted Iraqi president Saddam Hussein.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit reversed on Monday a ruling by a Los Angeles federal judge who had declared the 1996 terrorism-financing law unconstitutional. The case stems from a 2001 indictment against the seven Los Angeles defendants who were alleged to have provided hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Mujaheddin-e Khalq. The appeals court said the organization "participated in various terrorist activities against the Iranian regime" and "carried out terrorist activities with the support" of Iraq.

-- From News Services and Staff Reports


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