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New arrest made in tabloid phone-hacking scandal

LONDON — Police officials investigating phone hacking by journalists at Rupert Murdoch’s British newspapers arrested a man on Thursday who was identified in news reports as Tom Crone, a former senior lawyer for the newspapers.

Scotland Yard said in a statement that officers in London were questioning a 60-year-old man “on suspicion of conspiring to intercept communications.” The police did not release the man’s name, but he was widely identified by British news outlets.

The arrest brings the scandal over allegations of illegal interceptions of voice mail messages and other improprieties at the newspapers — especially News of the World, the tabloid that Murdoch shut down last year — closer to Murdoch’s son James. He headed the British newspaper business until recently, and has been locked in a public dispute with Crone and Colin Myler, the former editor of News of the World.

—Ravi Somaiya, The New York Times

Court grants new trial, citing earlier false testimony

NEW YORK — A federal appeals court in Manhattan ruled on Thursday that a man convicted of weapons possession should have been able to tell the jury that the main witness against him, a New York City police detective, had been found to have testified untruthfully in proceedings involving an unrelated gun case.

The conviction of the man, Lance White, in 2009 was overturned, and he was granted a new trial in the decision by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, which cited the trial judge’s ruling on what the jury could hear and what it called another error by that judge.

The panel noted that the judge in the earlier case had “unequivocally discredited” portions of Detective Paul Herrmann’s testimony, even suggesting that he had “recanted certain aspects” and implying that he had lied in a criminal complaint.

—Benjamin Weiser, The New York Times

No charges filed on harsh tactics used by CIA

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. announced Thursday that no one would be prosecuted for the deaths of a prisoner in Afghanistan in 2002 and another in Iraq in 2003, eliminating the last possibility that any criminal charges will be brought as a result of the brutal interrogations carried out by the CIA.

Holder had already ruled out any charges related to the use of waterboarding and other methods that most human rights experts consider to be torture. His announcement closes a contentious three-year investigation by the Justice Department and brings to an end years of dispute over whether line intelligence or military personnel or their superiors would be held accountable for the abuse of prisoners in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The closing of the two cases means that the Obama administration’s limited effort to scrutinize the counterterrorism programs carried out under President George W. Bush has come to an end. Without elaborating, Holder suggested that the end of the criminal investigation should not be seen as a moral exoneration of those involved in the prisoners’ treatment and deaths.

“Based on the fully developed factual record concerning the two deaths, the department has declined prosecution because the admissible evidence would not be sufficient to obtain and sustain a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt,” his statement said. It said the investigation “was not intended to, and does not resolve, broader questions regarding the propriety of the examined conduct.”

—Scott Shane, The New York Times