Pakistan protests arrest of alleged agent in US

AP News
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Posted: Jul 21, 2011 5:29 PM
Pakistan protests arrest of alleged agent in US

A federal court hearing for a Kashmiri-born man charged with working for Pakistan's spy agency to influence Washington policymakers was postponed Thursday, while Pakistan condemned the arrest.

Syed Ghulam Nabi Fai, the director of the Kashmiri American Council, is charged with working to influence Congress, the White House and State Department under the direction of a senior member of Pakistan's spy agency.

Prosecutors say Fai, who was arrested Tuesday by the FBI, donated money to political campaigns, wrote newspaper op-eds and met with government leaders as part of a secret lobbying plot to influence U.S. policy on disputed Kashmir.

Pakistan protested the arrest and the Kashmiri separatist leader has called it "conspiratorial," but a government statement Thursday did not address the allegation that Fai was an unregistered agent for Pakistan's spy agency.

Both Pakistan and rival India claim the disputed Kashmir territory, and the arrest is likely to inflame tensions between the two neighboring nations.

Fai appeared briefly in U.S. District Court, waving to supporters in the courtroom gallery, for a hearing to determine whether he would remain in custody or be allowed to go free as his case continues. But a federal magistrate postponed the detention hearing until Tuesday because Fai's attorney, Nina Ginsberg, had a scheduling conflict.

A second man, Zaheer Ahmad, also was charged. Prosecutors said he recruited people to act as straw donors who would give money to the Kashmiri American Council that really was coming from the Pakistani government. Ahmad is not under arrest and is in Pakistan, prosecutors said. Both men are U.S. citizens.

U.S. officials said Ahmad was working at the Shifa International Hospital in Islamabad. A man by that name did not return telephone messages and would not meet with a reporter at the hospital. His spokesman said Ahmad would not discuss the case.

"Dr. Zaheer Ahmad has not received any kind of notice or intimation from U.S. authorities so this is pointless," said Azmatullah Qureshi, the spokesman.

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Associated Press writers Matt Apuzzo in Washington and Zarrar Khan in Islamabad contributed to his report.