Chilean courts may not charge Pakistani terror suspect

Prosecutor lacks evidence to try Mohamed Saif Ur Khan for allegedly carrying trace explosives into U.S. Embassy

Published December 1, 2010 11:48PM (EST)

A Chilean prosecutor urged a court on Wednesday to dismiss criminal accusations against a Pakistani man who was arrested after being found with traces of explosives on his bag when he entered the U.S. Embassy in May.

Prosecutor Alejandro Pena said he did not find evidence that Mohamed Saif Ur Khan, a 28-year-old Pakistani, was involved in a terrorist plot.

Khan, 28, has denied any wrongdoing. He said he didn't know why embassy bomb detection equipment found traces of tetryl, a chemical used to boost the power of explosives, on a bag, documents and a cell phone he had with him.

Chilean police later found traces of the same chemical on clothes in the suspect's apartment.

Khan had been called to the embassy to be told that his U.S. visa was revoked because of information received by the U.S. government, according to the State Department.

The U.S. ambassador to Chile, Paul Simon, said at the time of Khan's arrest that there was no indication the embassy was the target of an attack.

The Pakistani Embassy has said that Khan "denied the accusations that he possessed explosive materials and the charges of links to terrorist organizations."

Chile's Interior Ministry had asked a judge to apply Chile's tough anti-terrorism law in Khan's case. The legislation, a legacy of the dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet, allows for long detentions without court orders, tougher sentences and unidentified witnesses.

But a judge refused to order Khan held on any charge tougher than an alleged violation of Chile's explosives control law.

Khan has been freed three times by judges who ruled evidence insufficient to justify holding him in Chile's maximum-security prison for terrorism suspects.

The Pakistani Embassy said Khan came to Chile from the United States last January to study Spanish and the hotel industry. The embassy said he arrived after staying with his brother, a doctoral student at Michigan State University, for a month.

By Associated Press

MORE FROM Associated Press

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Latin America Terrorism