U.S. student is held for alleged boycott support

Israel has detained an American graduate student at its international airport for the past week, accusing her of supporting a Palestinian-led boycott campaign against the Jewish state.

Lara Alqasem, a 22-year-old U.S. citizen with Palestinian grandparents, landed at Ben Gurion Airport on Oct. 2 with a valid student visa. But she was barred from entering the country and ordered deported, based on suspicions that she is a boycott supporter.

An Israeli court has ordered that she remain in custody while she appeals.

Alqasem is a former president of the University of Florida chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine. The group is a branch of the BDS movement, whose name comes from its calls for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel over its policies toward Palestinians.

On Tuesday, Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan, who spearheads the Israeli government’s efforts against the boycott, said in a radio interview that he would rethink his decision to expel Alqasem if she apologizes and renounces her support for the BDS movement.

Israel enacted a law last year banning any foreigner who “knowingly issues a public call for boycotting Israel” from entering the country.

In her appeal, Alqasem has argued that she never actively participated in boycott campaigns and promised that she would not promote them in the future.

U.S. Embassy officials have visited Alqasem in detention to ensure that she has food and water. But the embassy cannot legally advocate on her behalf, spokeswoman Valerie O’Brien said.

— Associated Press

Suicide bombing kills election candidate

A suicide bomber on Tuesday struck the home of a candidate in Afghanistan’s upcoming parliamentary elections, killing the candidate and seven other people, a provincial official said.

The candidate, Saleh Mohammad Achekzai, was holding a meeting at the time of the attack, which also killed several of his bodyguards, said Attahullah Afghan, head of the Helmand provincial council.

Achekzai’s home was in Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province, where the Taliban is said to control nearly 80 percent of territory.

On Monday, the insurgent group issued a statement condemning the vote and warning candidates and security forces that they would be targets if they participate in the elections, scheduled for later this month.

There are 2,565 candidates vying for seats in the 249-member parliament, including 417 female candidates.

— Associated Press

U.N. agency resumes cash aid to 9 million Yemenis: The U.N. children's agency said it has resumed emergency cash transfers to 9 million Yemenis after it was allowed to operate a call center to help monitor aid distribution. The cash transfers provide vital assistance to some of the most impoverished people in the war-ravaged country. The aid was suspended last week after Houthi rebels, who control northern Yemen, pressured UNICEF to close the call center. The rebels have been accused of diverting aid to supporters.

Guatemalan ex-vice president sentenced in graft case: Former Guatemalan vice president Roxana Baldetti was sentenced to more than 15 years in prison for involvement in a fraudulent state contract to decontaminate a major lake. Prosecutors backed by a U.N. anti-corruption commission accused Baldetti and 12 others of conspiring to grant an $18 million contract to clean up Lake Amatitlan to an Israel-based company. The company said it had a special formula that could clean the lake within months, but investigators determined that the substance was merely water, salt and chlorine. Baldetti, found guilty of illegal association, fraud and influence trafficking in the case, also faces drug trafficking charges in the United States.

U.N. seeks probe in Venezuelan opposition politician's death: The U.N. human rights office has called for an independent investigation into the death of a Venezuelan opposition activist who authorities say killed himself by jumping out a window while in custody. But opposition leaders, backed by several foreign governments, accused the government of torturing and killing the politician. Fernando Albán, 56, was jailed Friday for alleged involvement in an international plot to kill President Nicolás Maduro using explosives-laden drones. The United Nations urged officials in Caracas to launch an impartial probe to resolve the conflicting accounts of how Albán died.

— From news services