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U.S. diplomat visits American detainee in Ethiopia
By Jonathan S. Landay
WASHINGTON - Ethiopia's intelligence service is holding an American who fled Somalia's fighting in a secret facility pending a hearing on his status next month, U.S. officials said Friday.
Ethiopian authorities on Friday allowed a U.S. diplomat to visit Amir Mohamed Meshal, 24, of Tinton Falls, N.J., only the second such visit since he was incarcerated in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia's capital, about six weeks ago.
Meshal was among some 160 people who fled the fighting in Somalia in January and were detained in Kenya on immigration charges in a roundup that was coordinated with the United States.
In Kenya, Meshal told investigators that he'd stayed briefly in an al-Qaida camp in Somalia, but he denied undergoing training or being a fighter. FBI agents interviewed him twice and decided not to press charges against him. Kenyan authorities sent him and some 80 others back to Somalia with no legal proceedings, and from there Meshal was sent to Ethiopia.
On Friday, Meshal told a State Department official that he was in good health and was being well treated, and he was allowed to pass messages to his family in the United States, according to two State Department officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.
However, Ethiopian security officials refused to allow Meshal to use the diplomat's cell phone to call his family in the United States, according to his father, Mohamed Meshal.
"The frustration continues," said the elder Meshal, who's been e-mailing appeals for help to the White House and State Department since he learned where his son is from a McClatchy Newspapers report nearly two weeks ago.
The State Department told him that Ethiopian authorities haven't charged his son and plan to hold a status hearing April 14 to determine whether he should be held as a prisoner of war.
Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J., who represents Tinton Falls and has been working for Meshal's release, learned from U.S. officials that the Ethiopia Intelligence and Security Service is holding him without charges at a secret facility, an aide said, asking not to be further identified because he isn't authorized to discuss the subject publicly.
The fighting in Somalia was triggered by a U.S.-backed Ethiopian offensive against the Council of Islamic Courts, a coalition of militias that briefly controlled much of the country and that the Bush administration has charged is a front for al-Qaida.
U.S. officials asserted that Kenya's decision to send Meshal back to Somalia took them by surprise and said they filed a protest with the Kenyan government.
But Kenyan and U.S. human rights groups dismiss the claim, pointing out that Kenya turned over another American who fled Somalia and admitted training with al-Qaida to the FBI.
They charge that the secret transfer of Amir Meshal and the other detainees back to Somalia - sometimes called a rendition - violated international law.
"Each of these governments has played a shameful role in mistreating people fleeing a war zone," said Georgette Gagnon, deputy Africa director of Human Rights Watch, in a statement Friday night. "Kenya has secretly expelled people, the Ethiopians have caused dozens to `disappear,' and U.S. security agents have routinely interrogated people held incommunicado."
Jonathan Hafetz of the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law, who's providing legal assistance to Meshal's family, said he saw "no indication at all" that the case "is a high priority with the United States."
Meanwhile, pitched battles raged for a second day around the Somali capital Friday, pitting Ethiopian and Somali transitional-government forces against Islamic insurgents in what the International Committee of the Red Cross called the worst fighting in 15 years.
The insurgents downed an Ethiopian helicopter near the airport, dragged the bodies of Ethiopian soldiers through the streets and exchanged artillery, rocket and small-arms fire with Ethiopian and Somali government forces.
Scores of people have been killed and hundreds wounded - most of them civilians - and thousands were trapped in their homes, the ICRC said.
While the Ethiopian intervention ended the militias' control of much of the country, it also ignited an insurgency by Islamic militants, a major setback for Bush administration's counterterrorism policy.
The fighting in Mogadishu erupted Thursday when Ethiopian forces, seeking to complete a withdrawal from Somalia, broke a cease-fire and launched an operation to crush insurgents operating in the capital.
futile attempt of gaining leverage
He had no buisness to go to Somalia in the first place.
If you can’t do the time,
Don’t do the crime.
Have a nice day!
you get lost!! i have got a lot more problems to think about.
Mr Meles allow to USA only even if they ask him to kiss their owen foot
I ashame on of him as Ethio.and as leader.
He is not real Ethio.
He became robot
Cute and handsome young man. he shouldt go to jail no matter what he did
If he is a U.S citizen, he has no business in somalia to begin with. He should have stayed in his country. So he is well qualified for good terms in Kaliti.
WHY DO WE PLEASE AMERICA
Ethiopia is one of the poorest nation in africa,Ethiopia is one of the unfortunate country plaged with poor economy dependant on foreign aid and ruled by undemocratic tribaly based political group and national army.
While all these fact are evedent to the people of Ethiopia and the world at large we are involved in war,conflict and trying to please the unpopular Bush adminitration in Washington dc.
Are these the national character and identitiy of Ethiopia ? Deceiving others .Is this what we offer to africa and the world ?
THE ANSWER IS STRONGLY NO
Why is the current tribal based and un elected dictatorial leaders of Ethiopia spreading falsepropoganda ?
Why are we feeding false information and false image to the world?
Why are they acting as foregin agent rather than solving and transforming to democractic governance ?
THE ANSWER IS FOR SURVIVAL. THEY KNOW THEY DO NOT HAVE PUBLIC SUPPORT .ETHIOPIANS WE HAVE TO KEEP THE STRUGGLE.
The woyanes are accusing everybody including our dear leaders behind bars of terrorism. It is sad that the dictatorship of Ethiopia is manipulating the war on terror by accusing innocent people of terror.
This is all to please the west so that their human right violations will be ignored in the name of fighting ” terror” when in fact the dictatorship of Ethiopia is the real terrorist.
The truth will come out how the dictatorship of Ethiopia has been manupilating the west to recieve cash by falsely claiming to be heroes of the war on terror. When in fact they are terrorists who killed peaceful protestors in bright day light.
Stop hurting innocent people. Liberation for Ethiopia from dictatorship terror now.
If he is a terrorist, there is no double standard. He should get what he deserves.
but, one thing here if he is american what he doing in somalia? if he is hero for something why he didn’t do what he aimed at? he is so shit. coz he has to or perform something but he is loser.must satnd one side….
terrorist is new tool to kill and to inprison every body even the political leaders if they talk bad about the regime meles they are terrorist too so let them go to prison nowdays african leaders use this tactic shame on you good peoble are inprison but dont think this tactic will work on somalis they drag your corps in the streets weither you call the terrorist or not somalis are brave and die for their couse never accept defeite even if they have knife only to feith i will say this to ingnorent tigree terrorist stay away from somalia and for once think for the future of peoble in horn africa to live peace among them that is some think to work for..
You may hate Meles but, no body comes up with another pilot who can soft land an air Ship called Ethiopia. As for me as long as the pilot soft land me to my destination, I don’t ask, if it is a he or a she.
This idiot has no business in Somalia. He should help clean up his own Newark,New Jersey, ghettos!
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