Torture charge mercenary 'works for Rumsfeld'

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The Independent Online

An American mercenary caught running a private torture chamber in Kabul claimed he was working for Donald Rumsfeld before the first day of a trial yesterday that could land him in an Afghan prison for 20 years.

An American mercenary caught running a private torture chamber in Kabul claimed he was working for Donald Rumsfeld before the first day of a trial yesterday that could land him in an Afghan prison for 20 years.

Jonathan Idema, a former Green Beret, said he had Pentagon approval for what Kabul authorities called a private anti-terrorist campaign. Mr Idema told journalists he had been in regular contact with the Defence Secretary's office and other senior Pentagon officials by phone, fax and e-mail. US authorities in Afghanistan have called him a mercenary and denied official links the day before he was arrested.

He was seized by Afghans after a shootout at a private prison where eight beaten detainees were found hanging upside down. Mr Idema said he had been abandoned by the US government, telling reporters: "The American authorities absolutely condoned what we did; they absolutely supported what we did."

Two other Americans were arrested with him, including a television producer.

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