Aug 6, 2016 12:50 PM

Authorities arrest blacklisted American in Pakistan

The Associated Press

ISLAMABAD (AP) — An American citizen who was deported from Pakistan and blacklisted years ago has been arrested upon returning to the country, officials said Saturday.

Pakistan's Federal Investigation Agency officials arrested Mathew Craig Barrett from an Islamabad guest house, said Sarfaraz Hussain, a spokesman for the country's Interior Ministry.

He said Barrett was deported in 2011 after being found in the area of a sensitive installation. He did not elaborate but said, "If someone was blacklisted there should have been something serious."

Barrett, a 33-year old Alabama native, was previously arrested May 2011 in the Fateh Jang area near a highly secretive military research facility.

He had lived in Pakistan for four years, married a Pakistani woman and had two children. In media reports and a letter smuggled from jail in 2011 to the Guardian newspaper, Barret strongly denied local suspicions that he was a spy and claimed he was a victim of simmering tensions at the time between the U.S. and Pakistani governments. He was eventually deported and banned from the country.

Hussain said Barrett obtained a visa from the Pakistani consulate in Houston and managed to clear the airport immigration counter. An FIA official said a court has allowed the agency to hold him for three days for investigation. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to media. He said Barrett mentioned a "family visit" and a one-month intended stay in Islamabad in his travel documents.

U.S. embassy spokesman Christopher Snipes said in a text message that the privacy act "prohibits us from releasing information about American citizens without their consent."

Hussain said the interior minister has ordered a thorough inquiry into how Barrett managed to enter Pakistan again and suspended the airport immigration staff.

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