Pakistani court halts deportation of five American Muslims

December 14th, 2009 - 5:12 pm ICT by IANS  

Islamabad, Dec 14 (DPA) A Pakistani court Monday blocked the repatriation of five American Muslims arrested on suspicion of plotting terrorist attacks last week, a lawyer said.
The high court in the eastern city of Lahore asked the interior ministry and other relevant authorities to submit a report on the detentions Dec 17, said attorney Khalid Khwaja, a rights activist who filed a petition on his own initiative.

“We had requested in our petition that since these five men were detained in Pakistan under Pakistani law, so they should be tried under Pakistani laws and, if found guilty, must be given sentence in Pakistan,” Khwaja said.

The five men in their 20s from the US state of Virginia were arrested in Sargodha, about 160 km west of Lahore, days after they travelled to Pakistan in a group.

One of the suspects left behind a videotape that appeared to be a farewell statement, accompanied by references to the conflict between the West and the Muslim world.

Pakistani investigators alleged that the five university students were planning to participate in jihad in Afghanistan, and were trying to contact militant outfits for basic training in Pakistan’s restive tribal region near the Afghan border.

Interior minister Rehman Malik hinted over the weekend that the country might extradite the five men to the US, if they were found not guilty of violating any Pakistani law.

The US nationals - of Pakistani, Egyptian, Yemeni and Eritrean origin - were questioned by officials of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation and the US embassy in Islamabad.

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