US ambassador to Iraq regrets detention of Hakim's son
IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency
Baghdad, Feb 24, IRNA
US Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad expressed regret Saturday over the detention of Ammar al-Hakim, son of the prominent Iraqi Shiite leader Abdel Aziz Hakim, by US forces as he was about to return to Iraq from a visit to Iran.
Hakim and his bodyguards were arrested Friday by US forces on the pretext his passport had expired. He was released 11 hours later and is now in the company of members of the local council of Kut province, latest reports said.
Abdel Aziz al-Hakim heads the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), the main Shiite party in the country.
Officials of Najaf province called on local residents to hold a protest rally against Hakim's arrest.
Commenting on his detention, the US envoy said that he was not informed of the conditions of Hakim's arrest or the manner he was treated by the US troops.
"First, I express my regret for this arrest," Khalilzad said, adding, "We don't know the circumstances and we are investigating and we don't mean any disrespect to Abdel Aziz al-Hakim or his family." Meanwhile, there are reports Hakim was mistreated by US forces while on detention.
It was said that his cell phone and other personal effects as well as those of his two bodyguards were confiscated by US forces and have not been returned to them even after their release.
Ammar al-Hakim heads a cultural institute in Iraq.
Meanwhile, Mohsen al-Hakim, brother of the detained Hakim, talking to IRNA on Friday, criticized his brother's arrest by US forces as "illegal."
Criticizing the detention of his brother and the latter's bodyguards, Mohsen al-Hakim said the responsibility of checking passports at entry points belongs to Iraqi police and not US troops.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|