CIA torture architect breaks silence to defend ‘enhanced interrogation’

The psychologist regarded as the architect of the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation” program has broken a seven-year silence to defend the use of torture techniques against al-Qaida terror suspects in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

In an uncompromising and wide-ranging interview with the Guardian, James Mitchell was dismissive of a Senate intelligence committee report on CIA torture in which he features, and which is currently at the heart of an intense row between legislators and the agency. Read more

Photograph: US Department of Defense/AP

Syrian rebels warn of potential Homs massacre as regime troops advance

Syrian government forces stepped up efforts to advance on opposition areas of the central city of Homs on Thursday amid warnings of a potential massacre following months of siege and starvation.

But reports from the scene described rebels clinging to their positions despite tank shelling, sniper fire and air strikes mounted to help government troops recapture several enclaves in the old city. Full story

Photograph: Stringer/Reuters

Ukraine crisis: Geneva talks produce agreement on defusing conflict

The US, Russia, Ukraine and the European Union have reached an agreement aimed at pulling eastern Ukraine back from the brink of war.

The deal calls for the disarming of all illegal groups, who will have to vacate all occupied government buildings and public spaces. Full story

Pictured: Seven hours of negotiations in Geneva ended in agreement on a series of ‘concrete steps’. Photograph: Eric Bridiers/EPA

Mount Everest avalanche leaves at least six Nepalese climbers dead

An avalanche on Mount Everest early on Friday has killed at least six local climbers and left several others injured. 

Nine climbers are still missing, according to local authorities, and the death toll appears likely to rise in coming hours. Four bodies have so far been recovered, local police officials said. Full story 

Ed Miliband signs up top Obama adviser David Axelrod for UK election

Barack Obama’s most influential adviser during two presidential victories has been hired to advise Labour on its 2015 election campaign, ensuring that Ed Miliband will put inequality and the break between family finances and economic growth at the centre of his election campaign. Full story

Photograph: Jason Reed/Reuters

Gabriel García Márquez, Nobel laureate writer, dies aged 87

The Colombian Nobel laureate Gabriel García Márquez, who unleashed the worldwide boom in Spanish literature with his novel 100 Years of Solitude, has died at the age of 87, a person close to the family has said. García Márquez had been admitted to hospital in Mexico City on 3 April with pneumonia. Full story

Pictured: Gabriel García Márquez at his house in Mexico City, 2010. Photograph: Miguel Tovar/AP

Ukraine talks ‘reach deal’ on defusing crisis - live coverage

The Geneva meeting on the situation in Ukraine agreed on initial concrete steps to de-escalate tensions and restore security for all citizens.

All sides must refrain from any violence, intimidation or provocative actions. The participants strongly condemned and rejected all expressions of extremism, racism and religious intolerance, including anti-semitism.

– Geneva joint statement.

Follow the latest developments

Photo: Imago/Barcroft Media

Ethiopian government cancels anti-gay rally

A planned anti-gay rally in Ethiopia has been cancelled by the government, according to officials.

In addition, a plan by the legislature to add gay sex to a list of crimes ineligible for presidential pardons has been dropped, according to Redwan Hussein, an Ethiopian government spokesman. Full story

Photo: Stringer/Mexico/Reuters 

South Korea ferry disaster: captain and crew accused of abandoning passengers

The parents of hundreds of children missing after Wednesday’s ferry accident off the coast of South Korea have accused the captain of the vessel of abandoning passengers after it emerged that he and six other crew members were among the first to leave the ship after it started to sink.

The captain, Lee Joon-seok, who is reportedly in his 60s, escaped from the 6,835-ton Sewol at about 9:30am on Wednesday, just 40 minutes after the vessel apparently ran aground and started to list severely. Full story

Pictured: Lee Joon-Seok (centre), captain of the South Korean ferry that sank at sea off Jindo, is questioned by reporters. Photograph: Yonhap/Reuters Photograph: Yonhap/Reuters