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Nation in brief

Ashcroft pushes for death penalty

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 6, 2003

Attorney General John Ashcroft has ordered U.S. attorneys in New York state and Connecticut to pursue the death penalty for a dozen defendants in cases in which prosecutors had recommended against or did not ask for capital punishment, the New York Times reports, quoting unnamed lawyers who follow the issue.

Those are nearly half of all the cases nationwide in which Ashcroft has rejected prosecutors' recommendations in a death penalty case.

Ashcroft's decision to reject the confidential recommendations of the federal prosecutors for 10 defendants in New York and two in Connecticut is part of an aggressive effort to assure nationwide consistency in decisions to seek the federal death penalty, federal officials say.

Prosecution completes arguments in spy trial

ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- Government prosecutors finished their espionage case against Brian Patrick Regan with an FBI code expert explaining how the retired Air Force master sergeant allegedly concealed letters to Iraq and Libya.

The defense then began making its arguments, hearing a George Washington University professor testify that satellite pictures of Iraq, Libya and China could be bought from private companies.

Regan, 40, of Bowie, Md., is accused of offering to sell confidential documents, including satellite photos, to Iraq, Libya and China for $13-million. If convicted, he could face the death penalty. Regan has pleaded innocent.

TWO JAILED IN SPY CASE: FBI agents have arrested a former Washington Army National Guard officer and his ex-wife on espionage charges alleging they attempted to sell national security secrets.

Officials would not give details Wednesday. The indictment includes a reference to a North Carolina lawyer who has represented the Ku Klux Klan and militant antitax leaders.

Rafael Davila, 51, and Deborah Davila, 46, were arrested Tuesday and ordered held without bail.

Kasparov, computer play to another draw

NEW YORK -- World chess champion Garry Kasparov and computer opponent Deep Junior tied the fifth game of their Man vs. Machine series Wednesday, playing just 19 moves.

The six-game series remains tied at 21/2 games. The final game of the match, which could end in a draw, is set for Friday.

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