Monday, November 5, 2001

PESHAWAR, Pakistan Afghanistan’s Taliban government said an American died yesterday in a Kandahar hospital after getting sick while in prison on charges of spying.
A report by the Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press (AIP), a private news agency, quoted Abdul Salam Zaeef, Afghanistan’s ambassador to Pakistan, as saying the American had been arrested on Oct. 26 near the border crossing of Chaman in southwestern Pakistan.
On several occasions last week, Mr. Zaeef claimed that an unspecified number of Americans were being held in Taliban jails, without providing any details of who they were, where they were captured or what they were doing in Afghanistan.
AIP, which has been first to report a number of important developments from Afghanistan but also has been wrong on several occasions, identified the American as John Palatin. It gave no details of his age, hometown or reason for entering Pakistan.
It also said his body had been handed over to Red Cross officials in Kandahar. Red Cross officials could not be reached immediately for comment.
The American “was arrested and after that he got sick and was taken to a hospital where he died today,” Mr. Zaeef said.
The Pentagon has said no American forces are missing in Afghanistan but that it had no information on other Americans who may have entered the country on their own.
Since the September 11 attack on the United States by a terrorist group based in Afghanistan, several reporters have been arrested after crossing the border without visas.
On Saturday, the Taliban released French reporter Michel Peyrard, who had been jailed since he was captured Oct. 10, dressed as a woman and accompanied by two Pakistani reporters. The Pakistani reporters have not been released.

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