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Saturday, January 29, 2011

US demands release of diplomat arrested in death of two Pakistanis
Megan McKee at 10:15 AM ET

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[JURIST] The US Embassy in Pakistan on Saturday demanded [press release] the prompt release of a US man who it believes has been illegally arrested in connection with the shooting deaths of two Pakistanis, arguing the man qualifies for diplomatic immunity. On Thursday, the diplomat was reportedly confronted by two armed men on motorcycles, who minutes earlier had robbed money and valuables at gunpoint from a Pakistani citizen in the same area. The embassy has said the man acted in self-defense when he shot and killed the two armed men. After being arrested, the man identified himself to police as a diplomat and cited his right to immunity under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations [text, PDF]. The US believes that police and senior authorities failed to check his status with appropriate channels, and formally arrested and remanded the diplomat in violation of international norms and the Vienna Convention, to which Pakistan is a signatory.

This dispute strains what are already shaky diplomatic relations [AP report] between the US and Pakistan. Those relations have been strained by a variety of factors, including deaths related to airstrikes within Pakistan [WP report]. As a result of those airstrikes, Pakistan filed a complaint with NATO [JURIST report] in October. Despite the fractured relationship, Pakistan remains one of the key US allies in the Middle East. In September of last year, Pakistani authorities arrested three individuals [JURIST report] linked with Faisal Shahzad [JURIST news archive], the man accused of attempting to detonate a bomb in Times Square.




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