- The Washington Times - Friday, September 29, 2006

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Pakistan illegally detained innocent people on suspicion of terrorism, secretly imprisoned them and transferred them to U.S. custody for money, human rights organization Amnesty International said yesterday.

President Pervez Musharraf, in a memoir released in New York on Monday, wrote that his government has earned bounties totaling “millions of dollars” from the transfer of terror suspects to U.S. authorities.

Hundreds of Pakistanis and foreigners were rounded up in Pakistan on suspicion of links to terrorism since the U.S.-led war on terror started after the September 11 attacks, Amnesty stated in the report, “Human Rights Ignored in the War on Terror.”

“The war on terror has added a new layer of human rights violations to the existing patterns of abuses [in Pakistan],” said Angelika Pathak, an Amnesty researcher who helped prepare the report.

“The phenomenon of enforced disappearance was virtually unknown before the war on terror,” Miss Pathak said.

Amnesty suggested the lure of U.S. government rewards led in many cases to the illegal arrests of people, including women and children, in Pakistan.

Pakistan also has its own bounty program that provides money for the capture of suspected terrorists, which the Amnesty report did not take into consideration.

“Bounty hunters — including police officers and local people — have captured individuals of different nationalities, often apparently at random, and sold them into U.S. custody,” said Claudio Cordone, senior director of research at Amnesty International.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam denied Pakistan illegally detained people in exchange for money.

“Whenever we arrest any foreign terror suspect, we try to send him back to the country he belongs,” she said. “In most of the cases, such suspects are not accepted by their own government.”

“Naturally, we cannot keep them here,” she said.

Amnesty’s claims, largely based on interviews with former detainees, came days after Gen. Musharraf revealed in his memoir that Pakistan had captured 689 al Qaeda terror suspects and turned over 369 to Washington.

“We have earned bounties totaling millions of dollars,” Gen. Musharraf wrote in his book, “In The Line of Fire,” without specifying how much was paid.

Mr. Cordone said many people detained in Pakistan ended up in secret locations or at U.S. prisons, including Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and Bagram, north of the Afghan capital, Kabul.

“The road to Guantanamo very literally starts in Pakistan,” he said.

The report also details the “unlawful transfer” of detainees into U.S. custody, including a Pakistani chicken farmer who was accused of being a deputy foreign minister for the Taliban and sent to Guantanamo.

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