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2 Americans touch down in U.S.

Kenneth Bae, left, and Matthew Todd Miller, who spent months imprisoned in North Korea, arrived back on U.S. soil after the secretive nation’s leader ordered their release. FULL STORY

via CNN.com – Breaking News, U.S., World, Weather, Entertainment & Video News.


(CNN) — Traitor or patriot? Low-level systems analyst or highly trained spy?

Slammed by top U.S. government officials and facing espionage charges in the United States, former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden defended his decision to leak documents about classified surveillance programs during an interview with NBC “Nightly News” broadcast Wednesday.

“I think it’s important to remember that people don’t set their lives on fire,” Snowden said. “They don’t walk away from their extraordinarily, extraordinarily comfortable lives … for no reason.”

Speaking to anchor Brian Williams in a Moscow hotel, Snowden said he considers himself a patriot, and he wouldn’t have gone to such lengths to reveal secret U.S. government surveillance programs if he didn’t have to.

“The reality is, the situation determined that this needed to be told to the public. The Constitution of the United States had been violated on a massive scale,” Snowden told Williams. “Now, had that not happened, had the government not gone too far and overreached, we wouldn’t be in a situation where whistleblowers were necessary.”

The U.S. government, Snowden said, is using the threat of terrorism “to justify programs that have never been shown to keep us safe but cost us liberties and freedoms that we don’t need to give up and our Constitution says we shouldn’t give up.”

NSA analysts, he said, “can actually watch people’s Internet communications, watch their Internet correspondence, watch their thoughts as they type,” he said, describing such government surveillance as an “extraordinary intrusion … into the way you think.”

He didn’t specify when such a program would be used by the agency, but said seeing that program when he worked for the NSA astonished him.

Snowden has been living for nearly a year in Russia, where the government has granted him temporary asylum.

But he stressed he has no ties with the Russian government.

“I have no relationship with the Russian government at all,” he told NBC. “I’ve never met the Russian President. I’m not supported by the Russian government. I’m not taking money from the Russian government. I’m not a spy.”

In fact, Snowden said, he never planned to stay in Russia.

“I personally am surprised that I ended up here,” he said. “The reality is I never intended to end up in Russia. I had a flight booked to Cuba onwards to Latin America, and I was stopped because the United States government decided to revoke my passport and trap me in the Moscow airport.”

He hasn’t been able to leave Russia since then. Snowden said he would eventually like to return to the United States.

“If I could go anywhere in the world, that place would be home,” he told NBC.

Asked by Williams whether he considers himself a patriot, Snowden didn’t hesitate.

“Yes, I do,” he said.

That comment drew a sharp response from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who spoke with the network earlier Wednesday.

“Patriots don’t go to Russia. They don’t seek asylum in Cuba. They don’t seek asylum in Venezuela. They fight their cause here,” Kerry told NBC. “Edward Snowden is a coward. He is a traitor. And he has betrayed his country. And if he wants to come home tomorrow to face the music, he can do so.”

In another excerpt from the interview, Snowden sought to bolster his credentials, arguing that the U.S. government has tried to downplay his skills and work experience.

“I was trained as a spy in sort of the traditional sense of the word — in that I lived and worked undercover, overseas, pretending to work in a job that I’m not — and even being assigned a name that was not mine,” Snowden said.

Greenwald on privacy and journalism

Photos: NSA leaker Edward Snowden

Snowden questions Putin on camera

Sharing secrets: U.S. intelligence leaks

“Now, the government might deny these things. They might frame it in certain ways, and say, oh, well, you know, he’s a low-level analyst.

“But what they’re trying to do is they’re trying to use one position that I’ve had in a career, here or there, to distract from the totality of my experience, which is that I’ve worked for the Central Intelligence Agency, undercover, overseas.

“I’ve worked for the National Security Agency, undercover, overseas. And I’ve worked for the Defense Intelligence Agency as a lecturer at the Joint Counterintelligence Training Academy, where I developed sources and methods for keeping our information and people secure in the most hostile and dangerous environments around the world.”

Snowden continued: “So when they say I’m a low-level systems administrator, that I don’t know what I’m talking about, I’d say it’s somewhat misleading.”

A spokeswoman for the NSA declined to comment Tuesday on the NBC report.

What Snowden leaked sparked a national debate about privacy and security.

President Barack Obama and military officials remain in support of mass, warrantless surveillance. But civil libertarians, technology companies and others oppose it, noting the lack of transparency.

On Russian TV, Snowden asks Putin about Moscow surveillance

Edward Snowden speaks at SXSW, calls for public oversight of U.S. spy programs

Stories about NSA surveillance, Snowden leaks win Pulitzers for two news groups

via Edward Snowden tells NBC: I’m a patriot – CNN.com.


Tucson pair accused of imprisoning sisters to appear in court Dec. 9 – latimes.com.

A couple accused of imprisoning three sisters for up to two years in their bedrooms is scheduled to appear in court for a preliminary hearing on Dec. 9, Pima County Attorney officials said Friday.

Sophia and Fernando Richter, the girls’ biological mother and stepfather, were arrested Tuesday on suspicion of kidnapping, emotional child abuse and physical child abuse.

Fernando Richter, 34, was also arrested on suspicion of sexual abuse with a person under 15 years of age.

The couple was taken into custody shortly after police arrived at the family home, having been called by a neighbor. The two were booked into Pima County Jail and, during a brief court appearance by video, saw their bail set — $100,000 for Fernando Richter and $75,000 for Sophia Richter, 32.

Officials said that the sisters — ages 12, 13 and 17 — were captive in their bedrooms, under 24-hour camera surveillance and subjected to music playing in their rooms at all hours. The younger girls were forced to listen to “Latin-style music” while the eldest was subjected to hip-hop, officials said.

If the girls seemed to favor a song, police said the parents would play something else.

Sometimes they weren’t allowed to go to the bathroom, forced to relieve themselves in their bedroom closets, police said.

Investigators were also continuing to comb through a diary that was kept by the 17-year-old. At Wednesday’s news conference, Tucson Police Chief Roberto Villasenor declined to reveal the diary’s contents but said the teen kept one of her most prized possessions — a photo of singer Enrique Iglesias — in the journal, which was kept inside a satchel.

According to authorities, the girls’ mother has been with Fernando Richter for about a decade and married him about four years ago. Investigators said they still don’t know what led the couple to imprison the girls.

The sisters, who were described as looking “extremely dirty,” told police they hadn’t bathed in four to six months.

The two younger sisters were kept in a separate room from the 17-year-old and hadn’t seen her in months, the girls told authorities

Both bedrooms had alarm systems and shuttered vents. In addition, the spaces between the bedroom doors and the floor were blocked.

Authorities said that the family had moved into the home in August and that the girls indicated they had been imprisoned in previous homes.

The two younger girls told police they had escaped the single-story suburban home through an alarmed bedroom window, running to a neighbor’s house for help. It was unclear whether the alarm sounded.

The neighbor, who would give only his first name of Phillip, said he and his wife, Alice, took in the girls and called police. He and Alice were shocked because, they said, they didn’t even know there were children living in the home.

The two younger girls, who spent about an hour at the couple’s home, were frantic at first, Phillip said. He and his wife tried to calm the girls and make them feel safe. Eventually they felt more comfortable, started joking with each other and began to peruse the couple’s book collection.

“We like to read,” one of the girls told Phillip.

He said the girls were very polite and articulate, expressing their fondness for math and science and telling him that they missed attending school.

If you or a family member have been arrested for the crime of false imprisonment, call experience Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer Max Gorby at 310-200-9651. 

Dog Walker Pleads Not Guilty to Child Endangerment in Dog Bite Case – Police & Fire – Santa Monica, CA Patch.

A dog walker has pleaded not guilty Tuesday to child endangerment charges after the dog she was watching allegedly bit a 4-year-old girl.

Police responded Oct. 19 to a report of a dog bite in the 2300 block of 23rd Street in Santa Monica, said Sgt. Jay Moroso of the Santa Monica Police Department.

Detectives learned that Rebecca McGroerty, the dog walker, was given instructions by the owner of the 10-year-old Staffordshire Terrier to keep it muzzled and on a leash while it was outside the home, Moroso said.

McGroerty’s employers told her she was not to have anyone other than employees or residents in the home where the dog was because the animal was afraid of and had aggressive behavior toward children, Moroso said.

The girl was not a resident of the house. The dog was not on a leash and was not wearing a muzzle at the time of the attack, Moroso said.

The 4-year-old girl was treated with stitches in injured leg, Moroso said.

The dog was impounded by the Santa Monica Animal Control Unit for a 10-day quarantine and then released to the owner, with muzzle and leash restrictions. However, the owners had already been using these restrictions, Moroso said.

The next hearing for McGroerty is Jan. 8, 2014.

If you or a family member has been arrested for Child Endangerment, call Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer Max Gorby at 323-477-2819.


Man accused of injuring two women in hit-and-run


By Robert J. Lopez

5:07 PM PST, November 27, 2013

An 18-year-old arguing with two 17-year-old women allegedly struck them with his vehicle and fled the scene in Lakeview Terrace, Los Angeles police said Wednesday afternoon.

The two victims were dragged by the vehicle near Hunnewell Avenue north of Pierce Street. They were taken by paramedics to a hospital and were listed in serious condition, the Los Angeles Police Department said.

The suspected driver, Miguel Angel Jimenez, was taken into custody Wednesday afternoon on suspicion of felony hit-and-run, according to the LAPD.

Anyone with information regarding the crime is asked to call detectives at (818) 644-8021.

If you or a family member has been arrested for the crime of hit and run,

Call experienced Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer at 310-200-9651.


Charges dropped against man accused of DUI crash that killed 5 – latimes.com.

Criminal charges against an 18-year-old man accused of drunk driving in a Nevada crash that killed five members of a California family were dropped Wednesday after additional evidence showed that another person was driving the vehicle.

Jean Ervin Soriano was charged with multiple counts that included DUI and causing death or great bodily injury in connection with the March 30 crash that killed the Los Angeles-area family members.

But DNA evidence from blood in the vehicle and a footprint showed that the SUV that rammed into the rear of the family’s van was not driven by Soriano, according to his attorney Frank Cofer.

The only other person in the vehicle with Soriano was Alfred Gomez, 23. He was believed to be the passenger and was not tested for drugs or alcohol, according to authorities.

The findings were revealed Wednesday at a hearing in Clark County, Nev.

“Blood evidence on the passenger window and console did match Mr. Soriano,” said Cofer of the law firm Cofer, Geller & Durham.

The shoe print on the drivers’ side, Cofer added, “did not match Soriano’s shoes.”

A family member contacted by The Times expressed shock and sadness when told that Soriano was not driving.

“This is really hard to believe,” said Griselda Fernandez, 28, whose two parents died in the early morning crash on Interstate 15 about 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas.

The five people who died were: Genaro Fernandez, 41, of Norwalk; Raudel Fernandez-Avila, 49, and Belen Fernandez, 53, of Lynwood; and Leonardo Fernandez-Avila, 45, and Angela Sandoval, 13, of Los Angeles.

They were headed home after visiting a dying relative in Denver.

Authorities said several empty beer bottles were found in the SUV. Soriano was asked by a Nevada Highway Patrol officer how many beers he had consumed before the crash. “Too many,” Soriano responded, according to the arrest report reviewed by The Times.

Cofer said he believes that his client told authorities he was the driver after allegedly being “manipulated” and “intimidated” at the scene by Gomez.

A family member inside the van who survived testified that she heard two men arguing at the scene about who was the driver, according to Cofer.

At the time, Soriano had escaped from an Orange County youth probation center for people with substance abuse issues.

Gomez’s whereabouts were not known, and it was not immediately clear Wednesday evening what type of case authorities would be able to pursue against him.

“What if they don’t find him?” Fernandez said. “There needs to be justice. Something needs to be done.”

Cofer said he hoped that authorities learn from the case.

“Police should never rely solely on a confession that’s not corroborated by physical evidence,” he said. “Physical evidence can’t be intimidated, it can’t be coerced.”

Call experienced Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer at 310-200-9651.



An arrest warrant has been issued for New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez in connection with the shooting death Monday of a Massachusetts man, according to a Boston radio report.

Citing an unnamed law enforcement source, WBZ NewsRadio reported Friday that Hernandez faces a charge of obstruction of justice and that there’s a possibility that count could eventually be upgraded.
The station said it is not clear when and where Hernandez will be arrested.

The body of 27-year-old Odin Lloyd of Dorchester, Mass., was discovered Monday in an industrial park in North Attleborough, less than a mile from Hernandez’s home. WBZ reported that Lloyd had been shot in the head, but an unnamed law enforcement official told the Boston Globe that he had been shot “multiple times.”

ABC News reported Thursday that a video surveillance system in Hernandez’s home was intentionally smashed, and that a cellphone used by him was handed over to investigators “in pieces.” Also, a crew cleaned the player’s home Monday.

The Boston Globe reported Friday that video images taken early Monday morning appear to show Hernandez and Lloyd together on Fayston Street in Boston, and that a second video shows Hernandez later that morning in North Attleborough.

The newspaper, citing an unnamed law enforcement official, said Hernandez is not cooperating with police.


If you have a family member that has been arrested for murder, call experienced Los Angeles Attorney Max Gorby at 310-200-9651.


Rob Kardashian Pleads Not Guilty To Misdemeanor Charges « CBS Los Angeles.

BEVERLY HILLS (CBSLA.com)  Reality star Rob Kardashian pleaded not guilty Wednesday to two misdemeanor counts stemming from an alleged altercation with a female paparazzo.

The 26-year-old, who is best known for his appearances on his family’s reality TV show and “Dancing With The Stars”, was charged with one count each of battery and petty theft in connection to the March 27 incident.

Kardashian reportedly grabbed the photographer’s camera and removed the memory card after she allegedly took a picture of him without his shirt on at a commercial parking structure in Beverly Hills.

The woman said he struck her in the face during the scuffle.

A pretrial hearing is scheduled for May 29

Kardashian was allowed to remain free on his own recognizance, which was objected by the prosecution who had asked for $21,000 bail to be set.

The photographer has since filed a civil lawsuit against Kardashian.

If you have been arrested for assault, call experienced Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer Max Gorby at 310-200-9651.


Prison Realignment Drastically Changes Job, Probation Officers Say | NBC Southern California.


Nearly two dozen sex offenders were arrested during a three-week operation in LA County, in which investigators conducted compliance checks – going to the homes of sex offenders to make sure their ankle bracelets were working and they weren’t violating the terms of their probation.

Agents seized computers, hard-drives and phones, drugs and weapons during the sweep. And in one instance, children were found at a residence shared by a convicted sex offender.

Compliance checks are now part of the job description for probation officers because of the prison realignment program known as AB109.

“The individuals we checked on this past month had priors from robbery, kidnapping, attempted murder,” said Steve Howell, with the LA County Probation Department.

The federal order to reduce California’s prison population has put thousands of former state prisoners under the supervision of county probation departments. Probation officers say it has dramatically changed what they deal with. Instead of mostly passive, low-level offenders, they now see more aggressive and confrontational offenders.

“They have a different type of mentality where they want to challenge you right away,” LA County probation officer Jose Lopez said.

“A lot of these guys know they’re not going back to prison, so they’re going to put up a fight,” LA County probation officer Steven Munguia said.

Probation officers say their roles are slowly becoming less about transition and more about enforcement. California governor Jerry Brown is fighting a new order to reduce the population even further.

If you have been arrested for the crime of failure to register as a sex offender, call experienced Los Angeles attorney Max Gorby at 310-200-9651