BBC news 2013-12-17

BBC News with Sue Montgomery.

A federal judge in the United States says the National Security Agency's collection of huge amounts of data from telephone calls is unlawful. The gathering of such information was revealed by the fugitive intelligence analyst Edward Snowden. The US government is expected to appeal against the ruling. Here is Jonny Dymond in Washington.

The National Security Agency's data gathering hoovering up the barebones of phone calls and emails was, said district judge Richard Leon, indiscriminate and arbitrary. The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, he wrote, prohibited such acts. And an appeal is almost certain. The ruling came shortly after the White House knocked down debate about an amnesty for the man who revealed the NSA's "Data Troll". Edward Snowden, said the White House spokesman Jay Carney, faces felony charges. He ought to return to the US and face justice.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees has described the Syrian conflict as the most dangerous crisis for global security since the World War II. Antonio Guterres was speaking as the UN launched its biggest-ever appeal seeking 6.5 billion dollars for humanitarian aid for Syria next year.

What is more challenging is this dramatic combination of mega crisis, the Syrian one, the largest displacement crisis since the Rwandan genocides and probably the most dangerous for global peace and security since the World War II. The combination of these mega crisis with a multiplicity of other emergencies represents a gigantic challenge for us.

United Nations' peacekeepers in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo say more than 20 people including women and children have been killed in north Kivu province. The UN mission said most of those killed appeared to have been hacked to death last Friday and Saturday in two villages near Beni. It's not clear who carried out the killings, but the head of the UN peacekeepers said the atrocities would not go unpunished.

The president of South Sudan Salva Kiir says his troops have foiled an attempted coup after fighting in the capital Juba. Mr. Kiir who is from the majority Dinka ethnic group blamed the violence on soldiers loyal to his former deputy Riek Machar who is from the smaller Nuer tribe. Reports from Juba say at least 4 former ministers have been arrested. One of them is Majak d'Agoot who spoke to BBC's  James Copnall.

Former Deputy Minister Majak d'Agoot phoned me up to say that he was being arrested from his house. He said that what had happened. That had been a clash between different parts of the presidential guard. He said that clash had been on ethnic lines which is one of the big fears in this latest trouble in South Sudan the impact that could have. But he said that he and other critics of the government who'd recently said that President Salva Kiir was behaving in a dictatorial way have been behaving democratically. They have been criticizing, but didn't mean they were linked to any armed groups.

BBC News.

Poland and Lithuania say they are concerned about reports that Russia plans to move hypersonic missiles to the Baltic Sea enclave of Kaliningrad which borders the two EU countries. The Lithuanian defence minister said increased militarization of the region would create further anxiety. A US State Department spokeswoman said Washington had urged Russia to take no steps to destabilize the region.

The European Union are sought to reassure Russia that a possible EU partnership deal with Ukraine would not undermine Moscow's interests. After talks between EU ministers and the Russian foreign minister, the EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said that it made clear that the signing of the deal with Ukraine would not have any detrimental effect on Russia.

The world heavyweight boxing champion Vitali Klitschko has given up his title to concentrate on politics in Ukraine. Klitschko has played a leading role in the continuing mass protests by people calling for Ukraine to forge closer links with the European Union. As a boxer, he won 45 of his fights, losing just two. The World Boxing Council has said he can resume his career at any time. Football's world governing body Fifa has banned the Croatian defender Josip Simunic for ten matches after finding him guilty of rallying fans with pro-Nazi chants. It means he will miss next year's World Cup finals. Here is Warren Boo.

The Fifa's ban relates to an incident after Croatia won a World Cup play-off against Iceland in Zagreb last month. Having helped his team qualified for the World Cup Finals in Brazil, the defender Josip Simunic grabbed the microphone and addressed the home fans. He shouted "for the homeland", receiving their response "Ready". The chant is associated with Croatia's pro-Nazi Ustasha regime during the World War II which was responsible for the brutal persecution of Serbs, Jews and other anti-Fascists. Simunic said he hadn't meant to offend anyone.

BBC News.