SANTIAGO: Pakistani national Saifur Rehman Khan who was briefly detained after trace explosives were detected on him at the US embassy in Chile, staunchly denied on Tuesday the explosives charge lodged against him.
“I have friends and family in the United States of America and more than anyone I want America to be safe and secure. I have been to the US and I greatly admire the American values of true, justice and freedom,” Khan said in a statement issued in English. “I can fully understand the panic and fear and the reaction from authorities on Monday 10th of May. But, as my defence pleaded, that appears to have stemmed from a false alarm,” he stressed. “Please, have your trust in me.
I have no knowledge of any substance that can cause harm to anyone. I wish the perpetrators of violence are caught.” According to the suspect, the case owes to “a big misunderstanding stemming from a mistaken identity.” Khan read the statement outside the prosecutor’s office, and did not take questions from reporters. Khan was charged on Saturday with possession of illegal explosives, and was set free pending the investigation. He is barred from leaving Chile and must check in with a judge every two weeks, a court source said.
The 28-year-old had been detained for five days under Chile’s anti-terror law after officials detected traces of TNT on him when he visited the US embassy in Santiago. But he was not charged with violating the anti-terror law on Saturday. The Santiago hotel intern had gone to the embassy after being called in for a meeting about his US visa, which had been revoked. As he went through a security check, embassy officials discovered traces of a TNT explosive on his hands, cell phone, bag and documents.
Khan was detained a week after the arrest of a naturalised US citizen born in Pakistan, who US authorities accuse of having planted a car bomb on May 1 in New York’s Times Square. It failed to explode, and Faisal Shahzad was arrested as he tried to leave the United States on a flight to Dubai.
Published in the Express Tribune, May 20th, 2010.
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