President Trump has pardoned Michael Flynn, his first national security adviser who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about contacts with a Russian official. Trump announced the long-expected pardon in a tweet on Wednesday. Trump is expected to offer pardons to a number of key aides before he leaves office on 20 January. Flynn, a retired general, was a trusted Trump surrogate on the campaign trail in 2016.
Iran has released a British-Australian academic it had accused of spying in exchange for three Iranians being held abroad, according to the country’s state TV. Kylie Moore-Gilbert had gone on hunger strikes and spent long stretches in solitary confinement after being sentenced to 10 years behind bars. She had vehemently denied the charges and maintained her innocence.
The Ethiopian military will begin the “final phase” of an offensive in the rebellious northern Tigray region, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said on Thursday, hours after an ultimatum for Tigray forces to surrender expired. The government gave the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) 72 hours on Sunday to lay down their arms or face an assault on Mekelle, the regional capital of 500,000 people.
Argentina soccer legend Diego Maradona, who has died aged 60, succumbed to heart failure. The Argentine Football Association confirmed Maradona’s death on Wednesday and posted a short message on its social media platforms. Regarded as one of the greatest players in the history of the game, Maradona became a household name after inspiring his country to World Cup glory in 1986.
A court in Turkey has given life sentences to 337 military officers and others, in one of the biggest trials linked to the 2016 coup attempt. Air force pilots and army commanders were among the nearly 500 defendants accused of trying to overthrow President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. They allegedly directed the plot from the Akinci air base near Ankara. Mr Erdogan says US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen masterminded the plot, which led to mass arrests.