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Pakistani wants apology from Chile for detention

December 02, 2010

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Chile, Pakistani
Muhammad Saif Ur Khan, 28, said that he wants to stay in Chile because “it’s a pretty place, and the people of Chile are very friendly,” and he said his marriage would help him “to forget the bad times.” – Reuters Photo

SANTIAGO: A young Pakistani man who was detained at the US Embassy and investigated in a terror probe said Thursday that he expects an apology from Chilean authorities for the time he was held and interrogated. He also plans to marry his Chilean girlfriend and stay in the country.

Muhammad Saif Ur Khan, 28, spoke with Chilean news media as he and his fiancee, Lorena Cotroneo, went to city hall to start the paperwork required for their marriage.

They made the journey a day after prosecutor Alejandro Pena informed a court that he would not pursue charges against Khan due to a lack of evidence. The court is scheduled to hold a hearing on Monday to formally clear him.

Khan said that he wants to stay in Chile because ''it's a pretty place, and the people of Chile are very friendly,'' and he said his marriage would help him ''to forget the bad times.''

But he also said that authorities should apologize for turning his life upside down for six months. Khan, who arrived in the South American country in January, was detained May 10 at the US Embassy in Santiago, where authorities said that they had detected traces of an explosive on his clothes.

He was held in police custody for about a month, after which he was ordered not to leave the country while prosecutors sought evidence to back up the charges.

''I deserve to live a normal life. I deserve it a lot,' Khan said. ''If I don't obtain this normal life, it will be yet more discrimination.''

Interior Minister Rodrigo Hinzpeter ruled out an apology, saying that the government acted within its rights to investigate Khan and “no one can feel persecuted or that their rights were denied when the institutions work properly.”

Once Khan is fully exonerated Monday, he will be allowed to request an extension of his visa, which expired in June. He cannot legally marry Cotroneo until he does so. The two were married under Muslim law in October in a Santiago mosque. – AP