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China tennis star Peng denies that she made accusation of sexual assault

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Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai said on Sunday that she had never accused anyone of sexually assaulting her, and that a social media post she had made early last month had been misunderstood.

Peng’s well-being became a matter of concern among the global tennis community and rights groups when she appeared to allege that a former Chinese vice premier, Zhang Gaoli, had sexually assaulted her in the past. After that post, she was absent from public view for nearly three weeks.

“First, I need to stress one point that is extremely important, I have never said or written that anyone has sexually assaulted me, I have to clearly stress this point,” Peng said in the video posted by Lianhe Zaobao, a Singapore media outlet.

Peng’s remarks on Sunday marked the first time she had addressed the matter on camera in public. She spoke on the sidelines of a cross-country skiing event in Shanghai that she attended.

She said that her post on Weibo, a Twitter-like social media site, which had been quickly removed, was a “private matter”.

Peng, 35, said in the video that “people have many misunderstandings” about her Weibo post. She did not elaborate.

She also said that she had been living at home in Beijing without supervision. She did not mention Zhang.

Reuters has been unable to reach Peng since her Weibo post.

Early this month, the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), which has sought a direct line of communication with Peng, said it would suspend tournaments https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/science/wta-suspends-tournaments-china-over-peng-shuai-situation-2021-12-01 in China immediately due to concerns over the treatment of Peng and the safety of other players.

The WTA did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Sunday.

China has not directly commented on Peng’s initial post, but said after the WTA’s move to suspend tournaments in China that it “opposes the politicization of sports”.

Zhang has not commented on the matter.

Discussion of the scandal, which emerged as Beijing prepares to stage the Winter Olympics in February, has been heavily censored in China.

Peng said in the video posted on Sunday that she had personally written a letter last month to WTA head Steve Simon, in which she denied the allegation of assault, and that an English translation of it by Chinese state media was accurate.

Simon had said at the time that he “had a hard time believing” that Peng had actually written the email or believed what had been attributed to her.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has held two video calls with the 35-year-old Peng.

At the Shanghai event on Sunday, Peng appeared on a fifth floor viewing balcony with athletes from various sports, including former NBA basketball star Yao Ming, and watched for about 20 minutes, according to the Lianhe Zaobao report.

She wore a black jacket with a China flag and a red T-shirt with the characters for China.

 

(Reporting by Tony Munroe and Yew Lun Tian in Beijing, Brenda Goh in Shanghai, and Chen Lin in Singapore; Editing by Frances Kerry)

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U.S. charges man with human smuggling after 4 freeze to death near Canada border

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U.S. authorities on Thursday charged a man with human smuggling of Indian nationals from Canada, the day after four people including a baby were found frozen to death in a remote part of Canada close to the Minnesota border.

The U.S. attorney’s office in Minnesota said 47-year-old Steve Shand had been arrested just south of the border on Wednesday while driving two undocumented Indian citizens.

U.S. border patrol agents soon came across five more Indians traveling on foot, one of whom was carrying a backpack belonging to a family of four who had become separated from the group as they all tried to cross the border.

They alerted Canadian police who found the victims – a man, a woman, a teenage boy and a baby – about 40 feet (12 meters) from the frontier with Minnesota. First indications are that they died from exposure to the cold.

“These victims faced not only the cold weather, but also endless fields, large snowdrifts and complete darkness,” Royal Canadian Mounted Police Assistant Commissioner Jane MacLatchy told a televised news conference in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Wind chill had driven down the temperature to minus 35 C (minus 31 F), she said.

The U.S. attorney’s office said in a statement that the four victims had tentatively been identified as the missing Indian family.

The five Indian nationals explained they had walked across the border expecting to be picked up by someone and estimated they had been walking around for over 11 hours.

Shand has been charged with one count of human smuggling. He is next due in court on Jan 24.

(Reporting by Ismail Shakil in Bengaluru and David Ljunggren in Ottawa; Editing by Leslie Adler and David Gregorio)

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Canada agency says Russian-backed actors targeting infrastructure

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Network operators of critical Canadian infrastructure should boost their defenses against Russian state-sponsored threats, Canada’s signals intelligence agency said on Thursday.

The warning from the Communications Security Establishment (CSE) is the latest in a series of bulletins from Canada’s two main spy agencies accusing Russian actors of trying to hack into sensitive computer systems.

“(CSE) encourages the Canadian cyber-security community —especially critical infrastructure network defenders — to bolster their awareness of and protection against Russian state-sponsored cyber threats,” it said in a statement.

Russian actors and others are targeting critical infrastructure network operators as well as their operational and information technology, it added.

Operators should be prepared to isolate components and services that “would be considered attractive to a hostile threat actor to disrupt” and boost vigilance, CSE said.

Canada has had poor relations with Russia since the annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Ottawa fears armed conflict could break out in Ukraine and is working with allies to make clear to Russia that any further aggression towards Kiev is unacceptable, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Wednesday.

 

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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Canada adds jobs for fifth month in December -ADP

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Canada added 19,200 jobs in December, the fifth straight month of gains, led by hiring in the professional and business services and leisure and hospitality sectors, a report from payroll services provider ADP showed on Thursday.

The November data was revised to show 102,100 jobs were created rather than an increase of 231,800. The report, which is derived from ADP’s payrolls data, measures the change in total nonfarm payroll employment each month on a seasonally-adjusted basis.

 

(Reporting by Fergal Smith; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

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