KIROV, Russia -- Alexei Navalny, a charismatic and creative Russian opposition leader who exposed high-level corruption and mocked the Kremlin, was sentenced to five years in prison for embezzlement on Thursday, in a verdict that set off street protests and drew condemnation from the West.
The Moscow mayoral candidate was led from the court in handcuffs and bused to a jail. Soon afterward, in an unexpected development, prosecutors asked that he be kept free pending appeal.
Sentencing Mr. Navalny is the latest move in a multipronged crackdown on dissent that followed President Vladimir Putin's inauguration earlier this year, including arrests of opposition activists and repressive legislation that sharply increased fines for participants in unsanctioned protests and imposed tough new restrictions on non-government organizations.
Kerry plan in limbo
RAMALLAH, West Bank -- A high-level meeting of senior Palestinian leaders called to discuss U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's latest peace proposal ended without a decision on Thursday, casting a cloud of uncertainty over months of American mediation efforts.
Meanwhile, a U.S. official said late Thursday that Mr. Kerry will consult with Israeli and Palestinian leaders today before ending his current visit to the Middle East and returning to the United States.
Insurgents kill 8 Afghans
KABUL, Afghanistan -- Eight Afghan men heading to work at a U.S. base Thursday morning were pulled from their car by insurgents, marched to a nearby village and shot in the head, Afghan officials said.
Neither the Taliban nor other insurgent groups claimed responsibility for the killings. The men were killed about a half-mile from Forward Operating Base Shank, a sprawling base in Logar province that abuts Kabul.
Nuke plant spews steam
TOKYO -- The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant stood ready Thursday to inject boric acid into one of its most heavily damaged reactors after it found steam emanating from the reactor building.
The Tokyo Electric Power Co., or TEPCO, stressed that it continued to safely cool the reactor core and that vital temperature and radiation readings were stable.
N. Korean crew charged
PANAMA CITY -- Panama brushed aside North Korea's demands that it release an impounded North Korean freighter and its 35-member crew, pressing criminal charges Thursday against all aboard for endangering public security by attempting to transport a concealed cargo of Cuban weapons through the Panama Canal.
The vessel was impounded Sunday after the crew, armed with what officials called sticks, tried to fend off Panamanian marines investigating whether it was carrying contraband.
Ex-CIA Milan chief held
ROME -- A former CIA base chief in Italy who was convicted in the 2003 abduction of an Egyptian terror suspect from a street in Milan has been detained in Panama, the Italian justice ministry said Thursday.
An Italian official familiar with Italy's investigation and prosecution of Robert Seldon Lady said the former CIA official entered Panama, traveled to Costa Rica, and that officials there then sent him back to Panama where he was detained. The official spoke on condition of anonymity.
The CIA said it had no immediate comment about its former employee.