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Three Americans accused of being involved in last month’s coup attempt in Congo appeared in a military court in the country’s capital, Kinshasa, on Friday, along with dozens of other defendants who were lined up on plastic chairs before the judge on the first day of the hearing.

The proceedings before the open-air military court were broadcast live on the local television channel.

Six people were killed during the botched coup attempt led by the little-known opposition figure Christian Malanga last month that targeted the presidential palace and a close ally of President Felix Tshisekedi. Malanga was shot and killed soon after live-streaming the attack for resisting arrest, the Congolese army said.

The defendants face a number of charges, many punishable by death, including terrorism, murder and criminal association. The court said there were 53 names on the list, but the names of Malanga and one other person were removed after death certificates were produced.

Alongside Malanga’s 21-year-old son Marcel Malanga — who is a U.S. citizen — two other Americans are on trial for their alleged role in the attack. All three requested an interpreter to translate the proceedings from French to English.

Malanga’s son was the first to be questioned by the judge, who asked him to confirm his name and other personal details. The military official chosen to translate for him was apparently unable to understand English well.

Eventually, a journalist was selected from the media to replace him, but he too had trouble translating numbers and the details of the proceedings.

“He’s not interpreting right. We need a different interpreter who understands English, please,” Marcel Malanga told the judge after the journalist incorrectly translated his zip code.

But no other translator emerged and the defendants had to make do with the journalist, who worked for the national radio. Malanga appeared frustrated and defiant as the interview stumbled ahead.

Tyler Thompson Jr, 21, flew to Africa from Utah with the younger Malanga for what his family believed was a vacation, with all expenses paid by the elder Malanga. The young men had played high school football together in Salt Lake City suburbs. Other teammates accused Marcel of offering up to $100,000 to join him on a “security job” in Congo.

Thompson appeared before the court with a shaved head and sores on his skin, looking nervous and lost as he confirmed his name and other personal details to the judge.

His stepmother, Miranda Thompson, told The Associated Press that the family found out about the hearing too late to arrange travel to Congo but hoped to be present for future court dates. Before this week, the family had no proof he was still alive.

“We’re thrilled with the confirmation,” she said.

Miranda Thompson had worried that her stepson might not even know that his family knew he’d been arrested. On Monday, the U.S. Embassy in Congo told the AP it had yet to gain access to the American prisoners to provide consular services before the trial.


A Japanese court on Tuesday convicted three former soldiers in a sexual assault case that authorities had dropped until the victim, a former service member, came forward demanding a reinvestigation and prompting a military-wide harassment probe.

The Fukushima District Court sentenced them to two years in prison but suspended the sentences for four years, meaning they won’t actually serve time.

Still, the ruling is a rare victory in a country that consistently ranks near the bottom in international gender equality surveys and where sexual misconduct complaints are often disregarded. Victims tend to face criticism for speaking up.

The case filed by Rina Gonoi in August 2021 was initially dropped. Nine months later, she came forward and demanded the case be reinvestigated, saying the experience caused her to give up her military career. Gonoi said she has been attacked on social media for coming forward, but that she did so to prevent similar problems for other female service members.

Gonoi welcomed the ruling, saying it would prevent future victims. “Many victims still cannot speak up, but now we have this verdict, and I hope that more people come out and speak up,” she told reporters.

Defense Ministry Press Secretary Akira Mogi after the ruling offered a “deep apology for the long-lasting agony” that Gonoi has had to go through. Defense Minister Minoru Kihara told reporters earlier Tuesday that such harassment cannot be tolerated as service members work together to strengthen Japan’s military capability.

Gonoi’s revelation prompted a military-wide investigation into sexual harassment and other abuse allegations in September 2022, and prosecutors reopened her case.

The Fukushima court said each of her three former supervisors — Shutaro Shibuya, Akito Sekine and Yusuke Kimezawa — pressed their lower bodies against her at a party at an army training facility in August 2021, and it found them guilty of indecent assault.

The defendants had pleaded not guilty, denying any intent of indecency even though they admitted to pushing her onto a bed, NHK television reported.



Step into a U.S. military recreation hall at a base almost anywhere in the world and you’re bound to see it: young troops immersed in the world of online games, using government-funded gaming machines or their own consoles.

The enthusiasm military personnel have for gaming — and the risk that carries — is in the spotlight after Jack Teixeira, a 21-year-old Massachusetts Air National Guardsman, was charged with illegally taking and posting highly classified material in a geopolitical chat room on Discord, a social media platform that started as a hangout for gamers.

State secrets can be illegally shared in countless different ways, from whispered conversations and dead drops to myriad social media platforms. But online gaming forums have long been a particular worry of the military because of their lure for young service members. And U.S. officials are limited in how closely they can monitor those forums to make sure nothing on them threatens national security.

“The social media world and gaming sites in particular have been identified as a counterintelligence concern for about a decade,” said Dan Meyer, a partner at the Tully Rinckey law firm, which specializes in military and security clearance issues.

Foreign intelligence agents could use an avatar in a gaming room to connect with “18 to 23-year-old sailors gaming from the rec center at Norfolk Naval Base, win their confidence over for months, and then, through that process, start to connect with them on other social media platforms,” Meyer said, noting that U.S. spy agencies have also created avatars to conduct surveillance in the online games World of Warcraft and Second Life.

The military doesn’t have the authority to conduct surveillance of U.S. citizens on U.S. soil — that’s the role of domestic law enforcement agencies like the FBI. Even when monitoring members of the armed forces, there are privacy issues, something the Defense Department ran into head-on as it tried to establish social media policies to counter extremism in the ranks.

The military does, however, have a presence in the online game community. Both the Army and the Navy have service members whose full-time job is to compete in video game tournaments as part of military esports teams. The teams are seen as an effective way to reach and potentially recruit youth who have grown up with online gaming since early childhood. But none of the services said they had any sort of similar team playing online to monitor for potential threats or leaks.


Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke to his Russian counterpart on Wednesday about the destruction of a U.S. drone over the Black Sea after an encounter with Russian fighter jets, which brought the two countries closest to direct conflict since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine a year ago.

It was the first call between Austin and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu since October. And Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had a similar call with his Russian counterpart, Gen. Valery Gerasimov, the chief of the General Staff of the Russian armed forces.

“We take any potential for escalation very seriously. And that’s why I believe it’s important to keep the lines of communication open,” Austin said at a Pentagon press briefing. “I think it’s really key that we’re able to pick up the phone and engage each other. And I think that that will help to prevent miscalculation going forward.”

The U.S. military said it ditched the Air Force MQ-9 Reaper in the sea after a Russian fighter jet poured fuel on the surveillance drone and then struck its propeller while it was flying in international airspace. Russia has denied that it caused the accident. The U.S. has said it was working on declassifying surveillance footage from the drone that would show Tuesday’s crash.

That the top U.S. and Russian defense and military leaders were talking so soon after the incident underscored the seriousness of the encounter over the Black Sea and that both sides recognized the need to tamp down the risks of escalation. Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, contact between U.S. and Russian military leaders has been limited, with Russian officials refusing to take U.S. military calls in the early months of the war.

There are still questions as to whether Russia meant to down the drone, even though the moments that led up to its crash were “intentional,” said Milley, who stood alongside Austin at the briefing.


Two former German soldiers were convicted Monday of trying to form a mercenary group to intervene in Yemen’s civil war. They were found guilty of attempting to form a terrorist organization.

The Stuttgart state court said the two men, aged 61 and 53, were given suspended sentences of 18 months and 14 months. It didn’t release their names.

The two men decided in April 2021 to set up a paramilitary unit of 100 to 150 people, predominantly current and former German soldiers, the court found. They aimed for the group to take control of an area held by the Iran-backed Houthi rebels, forcing peace talks between them and Yemen’s internationally recognized government.

The court said the defendants were influenced by “ideas colored by Christian fundamentalism” and by the predictions of a Turkish fortune-teller, as well as by a desire to make money. The court said one defendant tried to contact Saudi officials to obtain financial and military help, while the other tried to recruit former and current soldiers.

Although they succeeded neither in attracting a big investor nor in getting anyone to join their unit, they stuck to their plans until they were arrested a year ago, the court said. Their trial opened in June and, in August, they were released on bail after 10 months in custody.


South Korea’s Supreme Court on Thursday threw out a military court ruling that convicted two gay soldiers for having sex outside their military facilities, saying it stretched the reading of the country’s widely criticized military sodomy law.

The court’s decision to send the case back to the High Court for Armed Forces was welcomed by human rights advocates, who had long protested the country’s 1962 Military Criminal Act’s Article 92-6, which prohibits same-sex conduct among soldiers in the country’s predominantly male military.

The article prescribes a maximum prison term of two years for “anal intercourse” and “any other indecent acts” between military personnel. Following the Supreme Court’s full panel deliberation of its 13 justices, Chief Justice Kim Myeong-su said they concluded the provisions should not be applied to consensual sex between male service members that takes place outside military facilities during off-duty hours.

“The specific ideas of what constitutes as indecency has changed accordingly with the changes in time and society,” Kim said in a decision that was broadcast online. “The view that sexual activity between people of the same sex is a source of sexual humiliation and disgust for objective regular people and goes against decent moral sense can hardly be accepted as a universal and proper moral standard for our times.”

The court later said in a press release that the decision was meaningful as a “declaration that consensual same-sex sexual activity (among military service members) could no longer been considered as punishable in itself.”

The two defendants — an army lieutenant and sergeant from different units — had been charged by military prosecutors in 2017 for having sex during off-duty hours at a residence outside their bases in 2016. They were among at least nine soldiers who were indicted in what critics described as the army’s aggressive crackdown on gay soldiers in 2017.

The defendants had appealed after the military high court upheld their convictions by a lower court based on Article 92-6 and gave them suspended prison terms.

South Korea’s Defense Ministry said it will “carefully examine” the Supreme Court’s decision while proceeding with the case sent back to the military court.


A judge has ruled that the Navy SEALs won’t be able to use Washington State Parks as training grounds.

In January 2021, the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission voted 4-3 to approve the Navy’s proposal to use up to 28 parks for training purposes for the elite units, where SEALs would emerge from the water under the cover of darkness and disappear into the environment.

The Northwest News Network reports the decision rankled many recreationalists, who said during public comments they would avoid these areas for fear that SEALs would watch them without the knowledge or consent of visitors.

On Friday, Thurston County Superior Court Judge James Dixon said the commission’s decision was illegal and outside its purview, which includes the protection and enhancement of parks.

In addition, Dixon ruled the commission violated the State Environmental Policy Act by not considering fully how the trainings could deter visitors.

Opponents of the decision often said the presence of out-of-sight SEAL trainees would incite a “creepiness factor,” removing a sense of calm often found in nature.

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