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Police knew in 2002 of hacking by tabloid

LONDON (AP) -- Police knew that Rupert Murdoch's News of the World tabloid had hacked into the phone of murdered teenager Milly Dowler nine years before the scandal over the practice exploded, a chief constable said Thursday.

The revelation raises new questions about whether police deliberately overlooked evidence of illegal behavior at the News of the World for fear of jeopardizing their relationship with it and other Murdoch papers.

In a letter to lawmakers disclosed Thursday, Surrey Police Chief Constable Mark Rowley acknowledged that his force knew in April 2002 that someone working for the News of the World had accessed Dowler's voice mail, an act that gave false hope to the missing teen's family and could potentially have interfered with the investigation into her disappearance.

Rowley acknowledged that no effort had been made to prosecute anyone at the paper over the spying and that the information about the phone hacking was not passed on until earlier this year. He said an inquiry team "is currently looking into why this was the case."


Freed soldier's father tells of harsh treatment

JERUSALEM (AP) -- The father of the Israeli soldier freed this week in a prisoner swap with the Islamic militant group Hamas said Thursday that his son "endured harsh things" while held in Gaza.

Noam Schalit made the remarks Thursday, two days after being reunited with his son, Sgt. Gilad Schalit. The comments provided the first details of how the soldier was treated during his more than five years of captivity in Gaza.

"Relative to the nightmare he endured, he is in good shape," Noam Schalit said. "He has to readjust after almost 2,000 days of isolation without sunlight."

He said his son was suffering from malnutrition and shrapnel wounds, apparently suffered during his capture, that had not been treated properly.


Palestinian diplomats lobby for membership

GENEVA (AP) -- Palestinian diplomats are trying to muster support for a U.N. Security Council vote in New York on Nov. 11 on their bid for U.N. membership, a senior Palestinian official said Thursday.

U.N. diplomats said earlier this week that a Security Council committee considering the membership bid would deliver a report Nov. 11.

Any council member can request a vote on the Palestinian request, but a resolution recommending membership requires a minimum of nine "yes" votes and no veto by one of the council's five permanent members -- the United States, Britain, China, France and Russia.

Washington has pledged to use its veto if Palestinian membership gets nine council votes.


Basques end militancy, seek talks on self-rule

BILBAO, Spain (AP) -- The Basque militant group ETA called an end to its 43-year violent campaign for independence Thursday and said that it wants talks with Spain and France -- a groundbreaking move that could end Europe's last armed militancy.

ETA had already declared a cease-fire last year -- one of nearly a dozen over the years -- but up to now had not renounced armed struggle as a tool for achieving an independent Basque state.

The Basque area is a small but wealthy region of northern Spain, with its own distinct culture and language. Under Gen. Francisco Franco, the dictator who was obsessed with the idea of Spain as a unified state and suppressed Basque culture, ETA emerged as a liberation movement in the late 1960s.

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