FBI hid vital evidence, US 'torturer' tells Afghan court

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The Independent Online

A bounty hunter accused of running a torture chamber in Kabul told a court yesterday that he could not get a fair hearing because the FBI had confiscated vital evidence and locked it in the US embassy.

A bounty hunter accused of running a torture chamber in Kabul told a court yesterday that he could not get a fair hearing because the FBI had confiscated vital evidence and locked it in the US embassy.

Jonathan Idema defended himself from the dock, accusing the US government of betraying him and alleging that the Afghans he is accused of torturing were planning spectacular terrorist attacks.

Mr Idema, 48, a former Green Beret, claims to have run his own anti-terrorist war with the full knowledge of the US Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld. But, he told the hearing in the Afghan capital, hundreds of faxes from the Pentagon, the CIA, and the FBI which showed the full extent of official support for his actions had vanished.

He denies illegally taking people hostage, detaining and torturing them. Mr Idema claimed that as soon as Afghan police accused him of torture, the US authorities, reeling from the Iraq prison scandals, shied away from him. He said he interrogated his alleged victims in front of FBI agents, and used only standard techniques. He claimed the trial was driven by political motives.

His co-accused are Edward Caraballo, a cameraman who was making a documentary, and Brett Bennett, another former soldier.

The trial continues.

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