While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, March 31


Russia, in spy rift riposte, expels 59 diplomats from 23 countries

Russia expelled 59 diplomats from 23 countries on Friday and said it reserved the right to take action against four other nations in a worsening standoff with the West over the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter in Britain.

Russia said it was responding to what it called the baseless demands for scores of its own diplomats to leave a slew of mostly Western countries that have joined London and Washington in censuring Moscow over the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

A day earlier, Moscow ordered the expulsion of 60 US diplomats and the closing of the US consulate in St Petersburg, Russia’s second city, in retaliation for the biggest ejection of diplomats since the Cold War.

Preparations appeared to be under way on Friday to close the St Petersburg mission down, with a removals truck making repeated journeys to and from the consulate which took delivery of a large pizza order for its staff.


Widow of Florida nightclub gunman cleared of all charges

The widow of the Pulse nightclub gunman walked free on Friday after a jury cleared her of charges related to the 2016 massacre that killed 49 people in Orlando, Florida.

Noor Salman, 31, could have faced up to life in prison had she been convicted of federal charges of obstruction of justice and aiding her husband, Omar Mateen, in providing support to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group.

Instead, the US District Court jury acquitted Salman after roughly 12 hours of deliberation that began on Wednesday. Hours later, she walked out of Orange County jail, her head bowed as she held hands with defence lawyer Fritz Scheller.


French court charges Pippa Middleton's father-in-law with rape of minor

The father-in-law of Pippa Middleton, whose sister Kate is married to Britain’s Prince William, has been charged in France with the rape of a minor, a legal source told AFP on Friday.

David Matthews was taken into custody for questioning last Tuesday by investigators with France’s Brigade for the Protection of Minors in a case dating from 1998-99, after a complaint was lodged in 2017, the source said.

According to Europe 1 radio, which first reported the charges, Matthews, now 74, was accused by a niece shortly before she legally became an adult.


Isner stuns Del Potro to reach Miami final

John Isner produced a blistering Miami Open semi-final display against crowd favourite Juan Martin del Potro to win 6-1, 7-6 (7/2) and snap the former US Open champion's 15-match winning streak.

It was a phenomenal effort from the American who blasted down 13 aces and took just one hour and 23 minutes to floor Argentina's Del Potro and book his place in Sunday's final.

Isner will meet either Alexander Zverev or Pablo Carreno Busta.


‘I’m back’: Arnold Schwarzenegger awake, in stable condition after heart surgery

Hollywood action star Arnold Schwarzenegger was in a stable condition on Friday after undergoing heart surgery in Los Angeles, his spokesman Daniel Ketchell told The Washington Post.

Schwarzenegger’s first words after waking from the procedure were “I’m back,” according to Ketchell. “So he is in good spirits,” he added.

Schwarzenegger, 70, underwent a planned procedure Thursday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre to replace a pulmonic valve that was originally replaced in 1997 for a congenital heart defect, Ketchell said in a statement.