Manila clears suspects held over kidnappings
MANILA - Philippine prosecutors said a new investigation has cleared 18 suspected Abu Sayyaf militants of involvement in the 2002 kidnappings of six people, including two men who were beheaded, in the country's south. A report of the investigation by seven prosecutors, released yesterday, says the 18 men were wrongfully identified by police and military as Abu Sayyaf members. Two of the suspects have been detained for more than two years while most others were detained last year. AP
Vietnam frees dissident lawyer from jail early
HANOI - Vietnamese authorities have released a well-known dissident lawyer from prison early, even as the Communist government cracks down harder on activists. The online newspaper VnExpress said Le Cong Dinh was freed on Wednesday for his "good abidance by prison rules". Dinh was arrested in 2009 and sentenced to five years in prison for conspiring to overthrow the government. AP
Myanmar may free 'political prisoners'
YANGON - Myanmar's leader has set up a committee to review political prisoner cases "to grant them liberty", in a rare direct acknowledgement of dissidents in the nation's jails. The regime announced a review of all "politically concerned" cases in November. The latest statement referred specifically to "political prisoners" and pledged to define who is a "prisoner of conscience" among those jailed and work towards their release. AFP
Korean soldiers parody Les Mis with video clip
SEOUL - The South Korean air force has posted a Les Miserables video parody on YouTube, complete with snow-shovelling airmen, a lovelorn military service conscript and a vindictive superior officer. The 14-minute video, entitled Les Militaribles, has garnered more than 400,000 views in just a few days and even received a Twitter nod from one of the stars of the Hollywood version, Russell Crowe. The parody uses the same score for the musical's big numbers but replaces the original lyrics with an alternative Korean-language version. AFP