Fri, Feb 11, 2011 - Page 5 News List

Video of detained American in Pakistan raises questions

MYSTERIOUS JOB:In the clip the detained man says at one point he’s with the US embassy, but also says later that he’s doing work for the US consular general

AP, ISLAMABAD

An American who shot dead two Pakistanis told police he was a consultant for the US consular general in Lahore and pleaded with them to find his passport, according to footage purportedly showing his encounter with security officials soon after the shootout late last month.

The clip first aired on Wednesday night by the private Dunya television channel could deepen the mystery surrounding what’s become a major diplomatic dispute between the US and Pakistan, whose alliance is considered key to success in the war in Afghanistan.

The US has demanded that Pakistan release the American, saying he has diplomatic immunity and shot the armed Pakistanis in self-defense on Jan. 27 in Lahore because they came up to his car and tried to rob him.

To pressure Pakistan for his release, the US has begun curbing contacts with Pakistani leaders and lawmakers have even threatened to cut off billions in aid.

Pakistani leaders, eager to avoid a backlash among a population where anti-US sentiment is rife, have avoided definitive statements on the status of the American, who they have identified as Raymond Allen Davis, and say the matter is up to the courts.

Davis faces potential murder charges and his next court appearance is set for today.

The brief footage was apparently shot by a mobile phone lying on a table in a room at a police station in Lahore. The authenticity of the video could not be independently verified and the faces that appear are darkened, but Davis’ face is somewhat visible and it matches pictures taken of him after the incident.

By yesterday, the clip was available on YouTube.

Speaking in a clear American accent, with a slight Southern twang, Davis says at one point he’s with the US embassy, which is in Islamabad, but also says later that he’s doing consulting work for the consular general, who is based in the US consulate in Lahore. He also says he’s with the “RAO,” an apparent reference to the US Regional Affairs Office.

He shows police multiple identification badges around his neck, some of which he says are old. Police read his name out as Raymond Davis and he doesn’t deny that. He says that after the police first caught him he showed an officer his passport, but the document has since gone missing and he needs police to help find it, possibly by searching his car.

The police speak mostly in Urdu and Punjabi among themselves, and at one point offer him water, but joke that he would have to pay for it.

Dunya also showed pictures allegedly found in a camera confiscated from Davis. The photos appeared to include government and police offices and areas near the Indian border, and they could fuel suspicions about why Davis would have taken them.

Exactly what sort of work Davis does for the US is a major issue because it could affect Pakistani determinations about his diplomatic immunity.

US officials yesterday declined to comment on the clip, but insisted that Davis’ specific assignments at any given time did not detract from the fact that he was officially a US embassy employee who was considered part of the “administrative and technical staff.”

That designation gives him blanket immunity and makes it illegal under international agreements for Pakistan to even detain him, the US says.

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