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Shocked tennis star Osaka posts about Chinese player: Where is Peng Shuai?

Tennis star Naomi Osaka says she’s been shocked to hear about a fellow player who has gone quiet since making a sexual assault allegation against a former top government official in China.

The Japanese former No. 1-ranked, four-time major winner posted on social media on Wednesday to join those asking: where is Peng Shuai?

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In a Twitter post Wednesday — under the hashtag #WhereIsPengShuai — Osaka wrote: “Not sure if you’ve been following the news but I was recently informed of a fellow tennis player that has gone missing shortly after revealing that she has been sexually abused. Censorship is never ok at any cost.”

The 24-year-old Osaka, who hasn’t played at tour-level since her US Open title defense ended in a third-round loss in September, said she hoped Peng and her family “are safe and ok.”

“I’m in shock of the current situation,” she wrote, “and I’m sending love and light her way.”

Other leading players including men’s No. 1 Novak Djokovic, and the organizers of the women’s and men’s professional tennis tours have been calling for a full investigation into the allegations made by the two-time Grand Slam doubles champion.

Peng wrote in a lengthy social media post earlier this month that a former vice premier had forced her to have sex despite repeated refusals. The post was removed from her verified account on Wiebo, a leading Chinese social media platform, and China’s entirely state-controlled media has suppressed all reporting on the case.

Reports of the allegations circulated overseas for more than a week before WTA Chairman and CEO Steve Simon issued a statement saying “Peng Shuai, and all women, deserve to be heard, not censored.”
“Her accusation about the conduct of a former Chinese leader involving a sexual assault must be treated with the utmost seriousness.”

The men’s tour followed on Monday, with ATP Chairman Andrea Gaudenzi saying tennis authorities were “deeply concerned by the uncertainty surrounding the immediate safety and whereabouts of WTA player Peng Shuai.”

“We are encouraged by the recent assurances received by WTA that she is safe and accounted for and will continue to monitor the situation closely,”

Gaudenzi said. “Separately, we stand in full support of WTA’s call for a full, fair and transparent investigation into allegations of sexual assault against Peng Shuai.”

Peng, 35, wrote that Zhang Gaoli, a former vice premier and member of the ruling Communist Party’s all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee, had forced her to have sex despite repeated refusals following a round of tennis three years ago. She said Zhang’s wife guarded the door during the incident.

Her post also said they had sex once seven years ago and she had feelings for him after that.

As is usual for retired Chinese officials, the 75-year-old Zhang dropped from public sight after his retirement in 2018 and is not known to have any intimate professional or political connections to current leaders.

Peng won 23 tour-level doubles titles, including at Wimbledon in 2013 and the French Open in 2014. She was a semifinalist in singles at the US Open in 2014. Peng hasn’t played at the top tier since the Qatar Open in February of last year, before restrictions imposed for the COVID-19 pandemic.

Peng also played in three Olympics — 2008, 2012, and 2016 — but the International Olympic Committee has remained silent about her allegations.

The IOC and China are organizing the Beijing Winter Olympics starting Feb. 4.
Her accusation was the first against a prominent government official since the #MeToo movement took hold in China in 2018 before being largely tamped down by authorities the same year.

When asked during a daily briefing earlier this week about Peng’s allegation, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said: “I have not heard of the matter, and it is not a diplomatic question.”

Read more: Tiananmen vigil leader invokes Gandhi at Hong Kong trial sentencing

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Lindsay Lohan celebrates birthday as married woman to Dubai resident Bader Shammas

Actress Lindsay Lohan is celebrating her 36th birthday on Saturday as a married woman.

The “Freaky Friday” star said she was the “luckiest woman in the world” in an Instagram post Friday that pictured her with financier Bader Shammas, who had been her fiance.

“I am stunned that you are my husband,” Lohan said in the post, adding that “every woman should feel like this everyday.”

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The couple had announced their engagement last November. People magazine and Entertainment Tonight confirmed there had been a wedding, but no details were offered.

While still single a few years ago, Lohan told Entertainment Tonight that she was looking for “a smart businessman” and someone who doesn’t like the spotlight. Shammas’ Instagram account is private.

The “Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen” actress and sometimes singer has worked through some sobriety issues in recent years, and has recently filmed a romantic comedy that is due to be released on Netflix later this year.

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Dutch university gets cyber ransom money back with interest

A Dutch university that fell victim to a massive ransomware attack has partly received back its stolen money, which in the meantime more than doubled in value, a news report said on Saturday.

The southern Maastricht University in 2019 was hit by a large cyberattack in which criminals used ransomware, a type of malicious software that locks valuable data and can only be accessed once the victim pays a ransom amount.

“The criminals had encrypted hundreds of Windows servers and backup systems, preventing 25,000 students and employees from accessing scientific data, library and mail,” the daily De Volkskrant said.

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The hackers demanded 200,000 euros ($208,000) in bitcoins.

“After a week the university decide to accede to the criminal gang’s demand,” the paper said.

“This was partly because personal data was in danger of being lost and students were unable to take an exam or work on their theses,” it said.

Dutch police traced part of the ransom paid to an account belonging to a money launderer in Ukraine.

Prosecutors in 2020 seized this man’s account, which contained a number of different crypto currencies including part of the ransom money paid by Maastricht.

“When, now after more than two years, it was finally possible to get that money to the Netherlands, the value had increased from 40,000 euros to half-a-million euros,” the paper said.

Maastricht University will now get the 500,000 euros ($521,000) back.

“This money will not go to a general fund, but into a fund to help financially strapped students,” Maastricht University ICT director Michiel Borgers said.

The investigation into the hackers responsible for the attack on the university is still ongoing, De Volkskrant added.

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Cyberattack hits Norway, pro-Russian hacker group fingered

Explainer: EU agrees rulebook for ‘Wild West’ crypto markets

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Singer R. Kelly sues Brooklyn jail for putting him on suicide watch

R. Kelly on Friday sued the Brooklyn jail that has housed him since his racketeering and sex crimes conviction, saying it wrongly put him on suicide watch after he received a 30-year prison sentence despite knowing he was not suicidal.

In a complaint filed in Brooklyn federal court, the 55-year-old multiplatinum R&B singer said officials at the Metropolitan Detention Center ordered the watch after his June 29 sentencing “solely for punitive purposes” and because he was a “high-profile” inmate.

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Kelly’s lawyer Jennifer Bonjean quoted a prosecutor as saying the jail’s legal counsel had told her that “per the psychology department, is on a psych alert for various reasons, such as age, crime, publicity and sentencing.” No timetable was provided.

Bonjean wasn’t satisfied with the explanation. “Simply put, MDC Brooklyn is run like a gulag,” she wrote.

Kelly said the “harsh conditions” he faced led to “severe mental distress,” and amounted to cruel and unusual punishment that violated the US Constitution’s Eighth Amendment.

He is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, though the docket suggests Kelly is seeking $100 million.

The jail did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Known for the 1996 Grammy-winning hit “I Believe I Can Fly,” Kelly was convicted last September on one count of racketeering and eight counts of violating the Mann Act, which bars transporting people across state lines for prostitution.

Prosecutors said Kelly exploited his stardom and wealth over two decades to lure women and underage girls into his orbit for sex, with the help of his entourage.

Kelly said he was also put on suicide watch after his conviction.

Ghislaine Maxwell, another inmate at the Brooklyn jail, was placed on suicide watch on June 24, four days before being sentenced to 20 years in prison for aiding financier Jeffrey Epstein’s sexual abuse of underage girls.

Maxwell’s lawyer said the British socialite had been given a “suicide smock” and deprived of clothing, toothpaste and soap though she too was not suicidal.

Friday’s filings did not say what specific conditions Kelly faced.

Kelly still faces an August trial in Chicago federal court on child pornography and obstruction charges, and various state charges in Illinois and Minnesota.

Read more:

R&B singer R. Kelly handed 30-year prison sentence for sex crimes

UK prosecutors charge actor Kevin Spacey with sex crimes

Ghislaine Maxwell handed 20-year prison sentence for sex trafficking

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