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VENEZUELA / Opposition media czar held

The owner of Venezuela's only remaining TV channel that takes a critical line against President Hugo Chavez was arrested Thursday, raising concerns the government is pursuing a widening crackdown to silence opponents. Guillermo Zuloaga, owner of Globovision, was detained on a warrant charging him with making remarks "offensive" to the president, Attorney General Luisa Ortega said. Zuloaga was later released, but the judge issued an order preventing from leaving the country while prosecutors proceed with their investigation.

BELGIUM / Aid for Greek debt crisis

Countries that use the euro said Thursday they have agreed on a financial backstop for Greece that would combine loans from other eurozone governments and the International Monetary Fund, a move aimed at stopping the government debt crisis that has undermined the shared currency. The bailout program could be used only if Greece winds up shut out of normal market financing such as selling government bonds, and would require all 16 countries to agree on releasing the loan funds. The plan, pushed by Germany and France, was an attempt to stem a government debt crisis that has raised concerns that Greece's woes might spread to other euro governments with shaky finances.

IRAQ / U.S. sanctions Sunni leader

The Obama administration on Thursday imposed new sanctions on a Sunni leader in Iraq believed to be connected to al-Qaida. The Treasury Department said it is freezing the assets in U.S. jurisdictions of Muthanna Harith al-Dhari, 40, for allegedly providing financial and technological support to al-Qaida in Iraq and providing guidance for attacks against coalition and Iraqi forces. The United Nations added al-Dhari, who has led the Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars, to its list of individuals and entities associated with Osama bin Laden, al-Qaida and the Taliban. Al-Dhari is believed to be living in Jordan.

- Combined news services

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