Immigration saga: Nisar says US citizen not a ‘spy’

Mathew Barret. PHOTO: INP

Mathew Barret. PHOTO: INP

RAWALPINDI / ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on Friday said that blacklisted American citizen Matthew Craig Barrett, who is facing a second expulsion from Pakistan, is not a spy but has no right of appeal following his involvement in ‘wrongdoing’.

Barrett will be deported in the next three days because the findings of a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) suggested that he was not a “spy”, Nisar told reporters.

This fact has been corroborated by the JIT that he was not a spy or at least there was no evidence that could confirm him (Barrett) as a spy. But he was nevertheless found involved in “objectionable activities”, he added without elaborating.

Nisar said the FIA has been asked to submit a report within a week so that cases like these do not recur in the future.

Nisar said Barrett obtained his visa at the Pakistani consulate in Houston, adding he used false documents to enter the country. He said several immigration officials at the airport in Rawalpindi and one at the consulate in Houston are under investigation for allowing Barrett to enter the country despite being blacklisted. One senior airport officer has been suspended.

He said the US citizen was deported from Pakistan in 2011 on the directives of the Supreme Court. He maintained that at the time of deportation Barrett was not charged under sections dealing with espionage.

He said the FIA has also been investigating how the systems at the airport failed recently and how its own immigration desk cleared Barrett for entry into the capital.

“I sought a reply from the official who issued the visa to Barrett and she replied that there was some error in the computer. I have no technique to verify that the explanation she has submitted is correct. The same explanation was given to the foreign affairs ministry when it inquired about the matter. “When I asked for his visa form, it was found that he left many entries unanswered. The visa officer was supposed to question him about these issues which she did not,” he said.

The minister made a reference to Senator Azam Swati who, in his personal capacity, had handed a cheque of Rs100,000 to the immigration official concerned.

Meanwhile, a court in Rawalpindi on Friday sent Barrett and Constable Ehtashamul Haq on judicial remand for 14 days. The suspects will appear before the court on August 25.

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