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omersukrugoksu/iStock(TEHRAN, Iran) -- Iranian intelligence authorities said Monday they had arrested 17 spies hired by the U.S. government's Central Intelligence Agency.

All 17 alleged spies were Iranian nationals, the director of the counter-espionage of the Islamic Republic intelligence ministry said at a press conference. The name of the director was not disclosed.

Those arrested worked as staff at sensitive centers in the country, including “economic, nuclear, infrastructural, military and cyber fields or their counterpart private sector," according to the Iranian intelligence press release.

Some of the spies who declined to cooperate with the Islamic Republic intelligence after their arrest have been sent to the judiciary and their cases are being processed. Their sentences will be either execution or a long imprisonment, the intelligence director said.

However, those spies who decided to "honestly cooperate" with the Islamic Republic's intelligence organization were used to work "against Americans,” Iran said.

President Donald Trump dismissed the allegations as "totally false" and "lies and propaganda."

 The president later addressed the controversy in the Oval Office.

“I read a report today about CIA,” Trump told reporters before a meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan. “That's totally a false story. That's another lie. They put out propaganda, they put out lies.”

Trump also said Iran’s behavior was making it more difficult for him to “make a deal with Iran” and that, at this point, he’d be “OK either way it goes” with Iran.

“If they want to make a deal, it’s—frankly it’s getting harder for me to want to make a deal with Iran because they behave very badly,” Trump said. “They're saying bad things. And I'll tell you, it could go either way – very easily. Very easily. And I'm okay either way it goes.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Fox Business prior to Trump's comments: "I would urge everyone who's reading that story waking up to understand that the Iranian regime has a long history of lying. ... I would take with a significant grain of salt any Iranian assertion about any actions that they've taken."

The assigned mission of the arrested spies was allegedly "collecting classified information" or acting in "technical operations," the counter-espionage director said.

He added all of the spies were arrested before they managed to accomplish their mission.

According to the Iranian intelligence director, defendants serving their sentences have mentioned "tempting" promises by the CIA, including U.S. visas and residency, a proper job in America or even the promise of medical aid abroad for themselves or loved ones suffering from illnesses.

The arrests come against the backdrop of heightened tensions with Iran, including the seizure of foreign tankers near the Strait of Hormuz, the downing of unmanned drones by both sides and the country's increased attempts to develop nuclear weapons.

The intelligence ministry director later clarified to ABC News that the new arrests are different from the former case of dismantling a CIA spy ring in 2011.

“That case is now closed and the new arrests are for the mission conducted in 2017-2018," the director said. More than a dozen spies working for the CIA had been arrested in that mission.

Iran also said it has provided its “allied countries” with intelligence clues of the current case including "CIA officers' information, clues and intelligence techniques used by the network" in order to create "another global failure" for the CIA.

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Visionhaus/Corbis via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- As A$AP Rocky awaits his fate in a Swedish detention center, the Swedish prosecutor's office announced on Monday that one of the two men involved in a June 30 street fight with the rapper and his companions will not face charges.

The decision comes as a response to a "counter-investigation" or complaint filed by the American rapper's bodyguard against one of the two men.

The bodyguard, whose name has not been disclosed by prosecutors, was present during the fight but was not detained.

“The person who filed the counter-complaint repeatedly asks the other person to leave. When he refuses to leave, the other person first pushes him away and then takes a grip around the other persons neck and lifts him away a few meters. In this situation, the person throws his headphones on the notifier, and tries to hand out battles, which may be considered as self-defense," senior public prosecutor Daniel Suneson said in a statement.

Swedish prosecutors declined to provide the names of the two men involved in the fight with the rapper and his friends. A request for comment sent to the bodyguard’s Swedish attorney Frida Wallin was not immediately returned.

The interaction that the prosecutor appears to be referencing can be seen in one of two videos posted on A$AP Rocky's Instagram page on July 2 that appear to be shot before the fight broke out.

The videos appear to show A$AP Rocky and his three companions — his bodyguard and performers David Rispers and Bladimir Corniel — being followed by two other men, with one of the men swinging his headphones at the rapper’s bodyguard.

“Just for the cameras, we don’t want no problems with these boys,” A$AP Rocky can be heard saying in one of the videos, which runs nearly three minutes. In the video, the rapper and his friends can be heard repeatedly asking the men to stop following them.

 “We don't know these guys and we didn't want trouble," he wrote in the caption beneath the posted video. "They followed us for four blocks.”

Following news of the rapper's arrest, the gossip website TMZ published a one-minute video on July 1 that appears to show A$AP Rocky and his companions kicking and punching the two men other men, but what preceded that brief video clip remains unclear.

The hip-hop star has now been detained for more than three weeks without any charges, along with Corniel and Rispers.

A$AP Rocky is expected to learn if he will face charges in a hearing scheduled for July 25 after a prosecutor requested more time on Thursday. His representatives are not expected to comment on the case until after the hearing.

The rapper's case has sparked outrage in the hip-hop community and Hollywood and even got the attention of President Donald Trump, who said on Friday that he was asked by "many" people, including first lady Melania Trump and hip-hop star Kanye West, to help the rapper.

Trump tweeted on Saturday that he spoke with Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Löfven about the case and he "assured me that American citizen A$AP Rocky will be treated fairly."

A$AP Rocky -- whose given name is Rakim Mayers -- is part of the hip-hop collective A$AP Mob, and was in Sweden as part of the European leg of his tour. He is "suspected of aggravated assault," according to the prosecutor's office.

But the rapper's Swedish attorney, Sloban Jovicic, told ABC News on Friday that he and his companions were acting in self-defense.

“You have to also see this from his point of view, he came to Sweden to perform for his fans and he was attacked, followed and harassed," Jovicic said. "My client begged and pleaded with these attackers to stop and he acted in self-defense. And now he is the one in jail. That’s unjust.”

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Golden_Brown/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump claimed on Monday he could win the war in Afghanistan in a week, but doesn't want to "kill 10 million people."

"I have plans on Afghanistan that if I wanted to win that war, Afghanistan would be wiped off the face of the Earth. It would be gone. It would be over in -- literally in ten days. And I don't want to do -- I don't want to go that route," Trump said.

The president met with Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan for a bilateral meeting in the Oval Office and working lunch at the White House during which Afghanistan was top of the agenda.

 "I think Pakistan is going to help us out, to extricate ourselves. We're like police but we're not trying to go where we wanted to fight a war in Afghanistan," Trump said.

The president said he could use aggressive military action in Afghanistan, but said he doesn't want to pursue that route because ongoing negotiations with the Taliban are going well.

"We could do a number of the likes of which they've never seen before," Trump said. "I don't want to do that because you're talking about millions of people, and I don't want to do that."

Khan said there is no military solution, but added, "this is the closest we've been to a peace deal in Afghanistan."

The support of Pakistan is critical for the Trump administration to end military involvement in Afghanistan, the longest war in American history, and the United States plans to encourage Pakistan to "deepen and sustain" its recent crackdown against militants and terrorists in the region, according to a senior administration official. Last year, Trump cut funding to Islamabad and tweeted, "they would take our money and do nothing for us," pointing his finger specifically at what he has said was Pakistan lack of help in the hunt for Osama Bin Laden.

 Still, the president said funding for Pakistan could come back depending on how talks go.

Perhaps a signal that Pakistan was willing to get tough on militants ahead of the prime minister visit to the White House, Pakistani officials seized Hafiz Saeed, a U.S. wanted terror suspect with connections to the 2008 Mumbai bombing that killed over 160 people.

Khan also said he will be making news on the release of unidentified hostages soon. Pakistan has not yet released Shakil Afridi, a doctor who reportedly helped track down Osama bin Laden.

Trump also offered to be a mediator in the ongoing conflict between India and Pakistan in Kashmir.

"I've heard so much about Kashmir, such a beautiful name. It's supposed to be such a beautiful part of the world but right now there's just bombs all over the place," Trump said.

"If I can do anything to help that, let me know."

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Costa Rican Health Ministry (SAN JOSE, Costa Rica) -- At least 19 people have died in Costa Rica after consuming alcohol contaminated with toxic levels of methanol, officials said.

The victims, who ranged from 32 to 72 in age, consumed the tainted alcohol in various cities across the country dating back to early last month, the country's Ministry of Health revealed over the weekend.

They each died from what appeared to be methanol poisoning. The fatalities occurred in San José, Cartago, Limón, Guanacaste and Heredia.

Government officials confiscated more than 30,000 bottles of alcohol suspected to be tainted, the ministry said in a statement on Friday, warning residents to avoid several brands that tested positive for contamination.

The confiscated brands include Guaro Montano, Guaro Gran Apache, Star Welsh, Aguardiente Barón Rojo, Aguardiente Timbuka and Aguardiente Molotov, the statement said.

The amount of alcohol adulterated with methanol that a person can drink before suffering fatal consequences depends on the concentration as well as the person's biological makeup, according to the statement, which was translated from Spanish.

"It is important to emphasize that this information is preliminary since the investigations continue," the statement said. "The Ministry of Health continues to carry out operations throughout the national territory in order to reduce the exposure of consumers to adulterated products."

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Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Prince George, the future King of England, is seen laughing and smiling in new photos released to commemorate his sixth birthday.

Three photos were released Sunday by Kensington Palace, all taken by George's mom, Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge.

Two of the photos were taken recently in the garden of the Cambridges' home in Kensington Palace, and the other was taken while the family was on vacation, according to officials.

The photos of George, who turns 6 on Monday, July 22, give a glimpse into the personality of the eldest child of Kate and Prince William.

George has a big smile in all three photos and is seen laughing hard while laying in grass in one photo.

In two of the photos, George is wearing a Nike jersey featuring the logo of the England national football team.

These two photographs were taken recently in the gardens at Kensington Palace by The Duchess of Cambridge.

Thank you everyone for your lovely messages on Prince George’s Birthday! 🎂 pic.twitter.com/2LBr0wdzy1

— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) July 21, 2019

George was spotted playing football, or soccer, with his siblings, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, earlier this month when the family stepped out to watch Prince William play in a charity polo match.

Kate revealed during this year's Wimbledon tennis tournament that George is also a tennis fan, and that Roger Federer is his favorite player.

She added the superstar has even played tennis with George, which Federer said took place at Kate’s parents’ home in Bucklebury.

George is currently a student at Thomas's Battersea School in London, where he is known as George Cambridge. He will be joined by Princess Charlotte in September, when she will start her first year at the private school.

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iStock/Foto4440(NEW YORK) -- Marine experts are trying to free a right whale tangled in fishing gear off the coast of Canada.

The 18-year-old whale, spotted in the Gulf of St. Lawrence on Canada's east coast, has been trapped for at least two weeks, CTV reported.

The whale is known to biologists who are tracking it as Number 3125, according to CTV. It was first spotted in distress on July 4 east of the Gaspe Peninsula in Quebec.

The Campobello Whale Rescue Team planned to attempt to disentangle the whale on Sunday, CTV reported.

Several right whales have been found dead off the coast of Canada this year. On Friday, the Canada Department of Fisheries and Oceans announced the death of two more whales, brining the total to eight in 2019.

Oceans Canada did not have an update on the whale's condition when contacted by ABC News on Sunday.

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Carson-Newman University (NEW YORK) -- An incoming college freshman died last week in Guatemala after an electrical shortage occurred while he was in the hotel pool, according to the university he was slated to attend.

Seth Washam, 18, was on a "short trip" to Guatemala with his sister, Emma Washam, when the accident occurred on Friday, according to a statement from the Carson-Newman University in Jefferson City, Tennessee.

Emma Washam, 19, who is a rising junior at the school, was also injured. The extent of her injuries is unclear.

The siblings were in Guatemala for an academic study, according to a Facebook post by Christian nonprofit A Hand Up For Women. Their father, Shannon Washum, arrived in the country on July 14 to join them and is now attending to his daughter as she receives medical treatment, according to the organization.

The U.S. Department of State is aware of the reports of the death of an American in Guatemala, a spokesperson said in a statement.

"We offer our sincerest condolences to the family on their loss," the spokesperson said. "We are closely monitoring local authorities’ investigation into the cause of death. We stand ready to provide all appropriate consular assistance. Out of respect for the family during this difficult time, we have no further comment."

Both Washam parents are alumni of the university, according to school officials.

“The prayers of our entire campus community is that God will be a refuge and an ever present help to the Washam family at this time,” said Carson-Newman President Charles A. Fowler in a statement. “For Shannon, Jean-Ann and Emma, we pray for God’s comfort and a peace that surpasses all understanding.”

The university has set up a donation page to benefit the family.

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iStock(WASHINGTON) -- A Venezuelan Su-30 fighter plane "aggressively shadowed" a U.S. reconnaissance aircraft operating over the Caribbean Sea, according to U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), in a move the U.S. is calling "unprofessional."

In a series of tweets on Sunday, SOUTHCOM said the Venezuelan fighter, which took off from an airfield 200 miles east of Caracas on Friday, "'aggressively shadowed' a U.S. EP-3 at an unsafe distance" and had been "jeopardizing the crew and aircraft."

"The EP-3 was performing a multi-nationally recognized and approved mission in international airspace" over the Caribbean Sea, SOUTHCOM added.

Venezuela has purchased military aircraft, including the Su-30, from Russia. U.S. officials have previously accused Moscow of propping up Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro amid the ongoing economic and humanitarian crisis there.

SOUTHCOM said the action of the Venezuelan fighter on Friday "demonstrates Russia's irresponsible military support to Maduro's illegitimate regime and underscores Maduro's recklessness and irresponsible behavior, which undermines international rule of law and efforts to counter illicit trafficking."

These types of interactions between U.S. and Venezuelan aircraft are far less common than those between U.S. and Russian aircraft. While most intercepts are safe and professional interactions, the U.S. military will highlight those it deems unsafe or unprofessional.

Last month, a U.S. P-8A Poseidon reconnaissance aircraft experienced an "unsafe" and "irresponsible" intercept by a Russian fighter jet over international waters, the U.S. Navy's Sixth Fleet said.

The P-8A was intercepted by a Russian SU-35 "three times over the course of 175 minutes" over the Mediterranean Sea, the Sixth Fleet said. While "the first and third interactions were deemed safe," the second "was determined to be unsafe due to the SU-35 conducting a high-speed pass directly in front of the mission aircraft, which put our pilots and crew at risk."

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iStock/MichalLudwiczak(ROME) -- Bones were collected from the depths of the Vatican Saturday, the latest effort to solve the mystery of a 15-year-old girl who vanished 36 years ago.

Representatives of the family of Emanuela Orlandi, who has been searching for the girl since she went missing from a street in the center of Rome in 1983, were at the Vatican at 9 a.m. local time when the containers holding the bones were unsealed.

Emanuela's sister, Federica, represented her family along with their lawyer, Laura Sgro, and a forensic expert, Giorgio Portera.

They remained there for six hours.

"Obviously it’s an emotional experience because I think my sister's bones could be there, but I won’t think about it until we have the results,” Frederica Orlandi said.

Last week, following an anonymous tip to look for Emanuela’s remains under the statue of an angel pointing to a grave in the tiny Teutonic cemetery inside the Vatican walls, authorities pried open the tombs to two 19th German princesses but found them mysteriously empty of any human remains.

After further research, Vatican officials realized that structural work had been carried out on the cemetery and the adjacent college in the 1960s and 1970s, which must have resulted in the princesses bones being moved.

This led them to the discovery of containers of bones under a stone slab beneath the college, which were opened Saturday.

Emanuela's brother, Pietro, who was not at the Vatican Saturday, told ABC News officials had dug up a "large number of diverse bones." He added that it could take weeks to identify and sort them all.

Portera, the family's forensic expert, said "thousands of bones have been found."

"I can't say if it's 1,000 or 2,000, but there are really very many, and so we assume the presence of the remains of a few dozen people," Portera said. "There are long bones, small bones, many are fragmented."

Portera added that the bones were found mixed together and not sorted.

"They were all piled up inside a cavity,” he added.

The Vatican spokesman, Alessandro Gisotti, released a statement Saturday that said a team including Portera and Vatican staff, including its own forensic expert, Giovanni Arcudi, gave the bones a first examination that followed "international protocols."

Further evaluations of the remains would be carried out next week with "an in-depth morphological analysis,’’ Gisotti said, citing the Vatican's promoter of justice.

It is not clear how long those tests will take.

Theories, anonymous tips and fake leads have circulated for decades in Italy about Emanuela’s disappearance but no concrete clues have been found to establish what happened to her. Conspiracy theories have linked her case to the plot to kill St. John Paul II, Vatican bank scandals and organized crime clan members in Rome.

The Vatican has always denied that it has information on Emanuela’s disappearance and has said it has given support to the family over these years. It says the decision to follow the latest tip received by the family shows their willingness to help the family.

Meanwhile, the sweltering July heat didn't deter supporters of the girl's family -- wearing T-shirts and holding posters with her photo -- from lining the fence of one of the Vatican gates.

"The truth sets you free," one read.

"She is alive because we continue to love her," read another.

Sandro Masetti Zannini, who was 17 years old when Emanuela went missing, told ABC News he wants ‘’truth and justice’’ and wants the girl to have a proper funeral.

And Cinzia di Florio said the Vatican, despite its claims otherwise, is not doing enough to solve the mystery.

"There is always a mystery behind a missing person," di Florio told ABC News, "but here we have the Vatican behind this mystery and that is a bit more significant."

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Chris McGrath/Getty Images(HONG KONG) -- Hong Kong authorities seized a large haul of explosives and weapons in a raid Friday, leading to an arrest and an investigation just as the city braces for another mass protest, according to local reports.

The discovery comes ahead of the latest of ongoing demonstrations, in part calling on the city's chief executive, Carrie Lam, to resign after a widely criticized bill that would have cleared the way for extraditions to China.

In what police said was the "largest" seizure they have ever made, they also found the highly dangerous explosive substance tri-acetone peroxide, or TATP, which gained notoriety after it was used in the deadly London bombings in 2005. Fifty-two people were killed and hundreds were injured in the attack.

Following a tip, police on Friday carried out a late-night raid at the Lung Shing Factory Building, according to local reports.

Official reports said TATP was seized along with weapons, including petrol bombs, knives and metal rods, kerosene, hard hats and googles.

Also found at the scene were banners and leaflets against the recent and controversial extradition bill, as well as T-shirts bearing the logo of a well-known Hong Kong independence group.

The Hong Kong National Front has confirmed in a statement on the Telegram app, according to local media, that a 27-year-man was arrested and was one of its members, but that they had no knowledge of the explosives.

ABC News was not able to independently confirm that

In recent months, millions of residents in Hong Kong have protested against what they perceive as creeping Chinese influence into Hong Kong domestic politics.

While the vast majority of demonstrators have been peaceful, there have been pockets of violence where small groups have clashed with riot police.

Opponents of the extradition bill believed it was being used as a political tool to allow mainland China to pursue political and religious opponents in Hong Kong.

After mass protests, Lam, who activists say is beholden to Beijing, announced that Parliament was suspending any action on the bill.

However, many protesters continue to demand her resignation.

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iStock(TEHRAN) -- Iran's paramilitary Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps have seized a British-flagged and a Liberian-flagged oil tanker traveling through the Strait of Hormuz on Thursday, Britain's foreign secretary said, in what appeared to be a significant new escalation between Tehran and Western countries.

Late Friday, a management company for the Liberian tanker, Mesdar announced in a statement that "the armed guards have left and the vessel is free to continue the voyage. All crew are safe and well."

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said in a statement he was "extremely concerned by the seizure of two naval vessels by Iranian authorities."

Iran's State TV said on Saturday that the British tanker was seized after it collided with a fishing vessel and ignored calls from the smaller craft.

Late Friday evening, following meetings in Washington, D.C., with more than 60 foreign ambassadors, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) announced a U.S.-led maritime security initiative dubbed Operation Sentinel "to increase surveillance of and security in key waterways in the Middle East to ensure freedom of navigation in light of recent events in the Arabian Gulf region."

The initiative, according to CENTCOM, "will nations to provide escort to their flagged vessels while taking advantage of the cooperation of participating nations for coordination and enhanced maritime domain awareness and surveillance." The statement does not specify the nations that have joined the coalition.

The British tanker, the Stena Impero, was crossing through the strait when it abruptly changed course and headed north towards Iran's Qeshm Island, ship tracking sites showed.

That tanker's owner and management companies issued a statement that the ship was "approached by unidentified small crafts and a helicopter" while in international waters. "We are presently unable to contact the vessel which is now heading north towards Iran," the companies, Stena Bulk and Northern Marine Management, said in the statement.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) said that its forces had seized the Stena Impero "due to non-compliance with international maritime law and regulations," according to a statement carried by Iranian state news agencies. The tanker had been guided to shore and was already in port, the statement said.

The U.K. government has convened an emergency session of COBRA, its crisis committee, a senior U.K. official told ABC News, speaking on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to comment publicly. Hunt confirmed that he was attending the meeting to review "what we know and what we can do to swiftly secure the release of the two vessels."

There were 23 crew aboard the Stena Impero, according to the statement from its owner, and currently there are no reports that any have suffered injury. Hunt said both vessels had crews comprised of a "range of nationalities," but noted there were no British citizens on board either ship.

The seizure comes less than a month after the U.K. seized an Iranian oil tanker off the coast of Gibraltar, accusing it of violating European Union sanctions by trying to ship oil to Syria.

Iran has repeatedly vowed retaliation since then and last week a British warship intervened to chase away Iranian small boats that approached another British tanker in the Strait of Hormuz.

Tensions have spiked in the strait again in the past few days after Iran said it had seized another Panamanian flagged tanker on Thursday accused of oil smuggling and the U.S. said it had destroyed an Iranian drone that approached ones of its warships. Iran has denied any of its drones were destroyed.

President Donald Trump said Thursday that the U.S. would be speaking to British officials about the situation and noted that the U.S. doesn’t have many tankers passing through the area.

"We heard that,” Trump told reporters as he departed the White House en route to New Jersey. "The United States has very few tankers going in because we're using our own energy now. We've made a lot of progress over the last two and a half years. So we don't have very many tankers going in, but we have a lot of ships there that are warships, and we'll talk to the U.K."

The government did say a U.S.-flagged ship, the Maersk Chicago, was traveling through the Strait of Hormuz late Friday and was being monitored.

"We have patrol aircraft operating in international airspace monitoring the situation within the Strait of Hormuz," said Lt. Col. Earl Brown, CENTCOM Chief of Media Operations. "U.S. Naval Forces Central Command has been in contact with U.S. ships operating in the area to ensure their safety."

The president noted multiple times that the U.S. and U.K. don’t have a “written agreement,” but that the two countries were strong allies and that "they’ll have a new prime minister soon, which is a good thing."

Later, he said that Iran was “trouble, nothing but trouble.”

The White House National Security Council spokesperson Garrett Marquis said the council is aware of the reports of the tanker's seizure.

"We are aware of reports that Iranian boats seized a British oil tanker," he said. "This is the second time in just over a week the U.K. has been the target of escalatory violence by the Iranian regime. The U.S. will continue to work with our allies and partners to defend our security and interests against Iran’s malign behavior."

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iStock(LONDON) -- Hackers gained access to the main account for the London Metropolitan Police on Friday night and began making odd demands, taunting police and even requesting the release of a British rapper.

The account, @metpoliceuk, was hacked just before midnight Greenwich Mean Time, when it began sending out largely nonsensical tweets. Among them were, "What you gonna do call the police?," "We are the police” and "no comment get my lawyer."

The hackers then began advocating for the release of British rapper Digga D from prison. It's not clear the artist is actually in prison currently, but he has been in and out of jail in recent years.

Digga D, who is one of the leading faces of the "drill" genre, released the song "No Diet" to great success in April. The video for the song has over 10.7 million views on YouTube.

He has caused controversy in the U.K. after his group, 1011, was issued a criminal behavior order (CBO) last year, requiring them to run all of their music past Metropolitan Police before release, according to The Guardian. The order has caused arguments over government censorship, with police arguing drill music incites gang violence in London.

The hacked account also proclaimed, without context, "XEON IS THE BEST FIGHTER IN SCOTLAND."

A Scotland Yard superintendent would only say the account, which has more than 1.22 million followers, was "subject to unauthorised access."

Emails linking to bogus press releases calling for Digga D's release were also sent from Scotland Yard's press bureau.

The tweets were deleted without comment on Twitter from the Metropolitan Police. By Saturday morning, the most recent tweet was back to one about destroying guns sent just after noon on Friday.

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iStock(BRITISH COLUMBIA, Canada) --  Authorities in British Columbia, Canada, are desperately looking for answers after the lifeless bodies of a young couple were found on the side of a remote highway.

Chynna Noelle Deese, 24, of Charlotte, North Carolina, and boyfriend Lucas Robertson Fowler, 23, of Australia, were found Monday on Alaska Highway 97, south of Liard Hot Springs, British Columbia, according to the Northern Rockies, Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Authorities said that they considered the deaths "suspicious" and that they believed the killings had occurred between Sunday and Monday. They did not specify the manners of death.

It was not clear if the couple was targeted, authorities said during a news conference Friday.

Authorities said they were looking to speak to anyone who had traveled that stretch of highway from Sunday, 4 p.m., to Monday, 8 a.m.

"Police would especially like to speak with anyone who may have a dashcam video while travelling that area. A vehicle -- an older blue minivan with Alberta plates -- was found at the scene and police would like to speak with anyone who may have seen the vehicle or rendered assistance," authorities said in a release Wednesday.

On Friday, authorities said they were trying to determine if that car belonged to the couple.

Chynna Deese's mother, Sheila Deese, told ABC News that her daughter had worked on farms and hostels all over the world -- including Italy and France -- and had met Fowler while working at a hostel in Croatia.

"Their story is like a love story that you would read about," Sheila Deese said Friday. "This Southern girl meets this wonderful Australian man. They were just so in love and both loved traveling."

Sheila Deese said Fowler was working on a ranch in Canada and Chynna Deese had left July 6 to help him. Since he had two weeks' vacation, he bought a van from his employers and turned it into a camper so that they could travel to national parks, Sheila Deese said. She said the two were traveling on a planned route.

In a Facebook post, Chynna Deese's sister, Kennedy Deese, said the family is "heartbroken."

"They were bright and beautiful souls," she said.

Fowler's family released a statement via the New South Wales Police Force's Facebook page, saying that they were traveling to Canada to bring his body back to Australia.

"We have lost our dear Lucas Fowler, son, brother, grandson and friend in the most terrible of circumstances," the statement reads. "To lose someone so young and vibrant, who was travelling the world and just enjoying life to the full, is devastating."

"To know his beautiful girlfriend, Chynna Deese of Charlotte, North Carolina also lost her life in this violent event is too cruel. All our love and best wishes go to Chynna’s family and friends," the statement said. "Our deepest thanks for all your love and care. At this stage we can only move forward a minute at a time, and those minutes are moving so slowly. Please share this post with all those who may have crossed paths anywhere in the world with these beautiful young people."

Carrie Hawryluk of Fort Nelson, British Columbia, told Canada's Global News that she'd seen a couple who matched the police's description of Deese and Fowler on Sunday. She said the couple and their van were on the side of the road.

"The van hood was up like it had broken down and they were sitting in some lawn chairs in the ditch," she told Global News.

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Christian Vierig/Getty Images(STOCKHOLM) -- President Donald Trump spoke out for the first time Friday about the case of rapper A$AP Rocky, who has been held in a Swedish jail for more than two weeks without charges following a street fight.

The president said the White House has been communicating with Sweden and working on the release of the hip-hop star, who will be detained at least until July 25, a judge ruled Friday.

"A$AP Rocky is a situation in Sweden. Sweden's a great country and they're friends of mine, the leadership. And we are going to be calling, we'll be talking to them, we've already started and many, many members of the African-American community have called me -- friends of mine, and said could you help?" Trump told reporters on Friday when asked about the case.

The rapper's unusual case has become a cause celebre, attracting the attention of stars such as Kim Kardashian West, who directly appealed to the president. Trump also revealed that first lady Melania Trump personally appealed to him and asked him to help the rapper.

U.S. State Dept. officials issued a statement acknowledging the court ruling.

"We are aware that the Stockholm District Court announced it has granted until July 25 for prosecutors to complete their investigation in this case," the statement said. "One of the most important tasks of the Department of State and U.S. embassies and consulates abroad is to provide assistance to U.S. citizens who are detained abroad."

A$AP Rocky has been in pre-trial detention since July 2, following a June 30 street fight that broke out in Stockholm. Two other performers who were with the rapper that night, Bladimir Corniel and David Rispers, were also detained.

“We are very disappointed because this is frankly unjust," A$AP Rocky’s Swedish attorney, Sloban Jovicic, told ABC News in a phone interview on Friday. He disputed the prosecution's argument that the rapper could flee the country.

“This is unjust because he is incarcerated because the prosecutor is applying the rule of 'flight right.' There is no risk for flight risk or escape because A$AP would never jeopardize his career, brand, support from his fans, friends and celebrities all over the world," Jovicic said.

A Change.org petition demanding the rapper's release, which has been shared widely by Hollywood stars and artists from all corners of the hip-hop world, has garnered over 600,000 signatures and celebrities from Kardashian West to Justin Bieber have been calling for the rapper's release.

Kardashian West, who has developed a close relationship with the Trump administration through her advocacy for criminal justice reform, confirmed a TMZ report on Thursday that she and her husband, hip-hop star Kanye West, appealed to the president through his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner to help free the rapper. Kardashian West also worked with Trump to help free Alice Johnson, a grandmother who had been serving life on drug charges.

"Thank you @realDonaldTrump , @SecPompeo, Jared Kushner & everyone involved with the efforts to Free ASAP Rocky & his two friends. Your commitment to justice reform is so appreciated," she tweeted.

The State Department announced on Wednesday that Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs Carl Risch traveled to Sweden and is in the country currently.

“[A$AP Rocky] knows that celebrities and fans have a petition of support to bring him home he would never jeopardize that. It’s frankly unjust for them to think he would not act responsibly and accordingly in this matter," Jovicic told ABC News.

Regarding the upcoming hearing on July 25 Jovicic said, “We need to be prepared and assume the prosecutor will press charges. We are hoping for justice in a fair trial.”

A$AP Rocky -- whose given name is Rakim Mayers -- is part of the hip-hop collective A$AP Mob, and was in Sweden as part of the European leg of his tour.

The rapper is “suspected of aggravated assault,” according to a press release posted to the website of the Stockholm prosecutor's office. But the rapper's attorney told ABC News that he and his companions were acting in self-defense.

“You have to also see this from his point of view, he came to Sweden to perform for his fans and he was attacked, followed and harassed," Jovicic said on Friday. "My client begged and pleaded with these attackers to stop and he acted in self-defense. And now he is the one in jail. That’s unjust.”

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Omer Messinger/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel criticized President Donald's Trump's comments that four Democratic congresswomen should "go back" to where they came from, saying the idea "contradicts America's strength," and expressed "solidarity with the attacked women.”

The chancellor, who made the comments on Friday during her annual press event, said the country's strength is derived from the contributions of people from many backgrounds, and that Trump's comments -- first expressed on Twitter and repeated to his supporters at a campaign rally -- run "counter to this impression."

"This is something that contradicts America's strength,” she said.

Theresa May, the outgoing U.K. prime minister, has also criticized the remarks, saying through a spokesperson they were "completely unacceptable," according to the BBC.

The president targeted four progressive Democrats -- Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.; Ilhan Omar, D-Minn.; Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich.; and Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass -- saying they "came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe." Three of the lawmakers were born in the U.S., and Omar came to the U.S. as a refugee as a child.

Omar fired back, calling it a "blatantly racist attack on four duly elected members of the United States House of Representatives, all of whom are women of color.”

Trump then doubled down on the comments -- against Omar, in particular -- at a campaign rally in Greenville, NC, saying: "I said I have a suggestion for the hate-filled extremists who are constantly trying to tear our country down. They never have anything good to say, that's why I say, hey, if they don't like it let them leave. Leave, let them leave."

He looked on as his largely white crowd broke into repeated chants of "Send her back!" Omar, who was born in Somalia, is one of the first two Muslim women in Congress.

On Thursday night, a crowd in Omar's home state of Minnesota greeted her arrival from Washington with the chant, "Welcome home, Ilhan!"

The U.S.-German has shown signs of stress since Trump's ascent to the Oval Office. A poll conducted by the Pew Research Center and Koerber-Stiftung in Germany in late 2018 found that 78% of Germans feel the US-German relationship was bad -- a 17% increase from 2017.

Merkel has held her post since 2005 and has said she will leave office when her current term ends in 2021.

Pressed by reporters about her health after it appeared she was shaking during several recent public appearances, Merkel, who turned 65 this week, brushed aside concerns.

"I hope there is life after my time in office and I would like to lead it in good health," she said.

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