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Updated: February 2, 2010 19:31 IST

American detainees allege US, Pakistan trying to set them up

DPA
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Pakistani police officers escort detained American Muslims following their appearing at an anti terrorist court in Sargodha, Pakistan, on Tuesday.
Pakistani police officers escort detained American Muslims following their appearing at an anti terrorist court in Sargodha, Pakistan, on Tuesday.

Five American nationals arrested in Pakistan on suspicion of conspiring to carry out terrorist attacks accused the US and Pakistani authorities of trying to frame them on Tuesday.

The detainees, believed to be in their 20s, made the allegation in a letter thrown to reporters from inside a prison van which took them to a special court in Pakistan’s eastern town of Sargodha.

“Since our arrest the USA and the FBI and Pakistani police have tortured us,” the men said in the letter written on tissue paper.

“They are trying to set us up.” The suspects said they were innocent, and ended their letter with the phrase “help us.” Their counsel, Khalid Khwaja, told reporters that he was being prevented from meeting his clients and did not have access to the police reports.

Pakistani police and prison authorities rejected the torture charge, which was also made when the Americans were being driven away from the court on January 18.

Investigation officer Amir Abbas Shirazi said on Monday that the court had ordered the detainees to be medically examined.

The suspects were remanded in custody until February 16, the date set for the next hearing.

The media and public are not allowed to witness the trial, but two officials from the US embassy in Islamabad were present in court.

The American students were reported missing from the US state of Virginia in November, and arrested in a raid on a house in Sargodha in December.

Pakistani police claimed the five men were plotting terrorist attacks and tried to link up with Islamist extremist groups associated with al-Qaeda over the internet.

Two of the suspects are of Pakistani origin and the three others of Egyptian, Yemeni and Eritrean descent.

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