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Pak court order on deportation is reasonable, says US

December 15, 2009 12:44 IST

The United States said on Tuesday that the Lahore High Court order that stopped Pakistani authorities from deporting the five American nationals arrested on charges of planning attacks was a "reasonable judicial procedure".

"It sounds to me to be a reasonable judicial procedure," State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said in response to a question on the Lahore High Court order which directed authorities in Pakistan not to deport the arrested US nationals to any country. The US nationals in their 20s were detained by Pakistani authorities last week after the Federal Bureau of Investigation launched a massive global manhunt as they suddenly went missing from their homes in North Virginia. No charges have been framed against them so far.

Local Pakistani authorities have said that these youths were radically inclined and were planning to join the terrorist groups to fight against the US forces in Afghanistan. "We are in the process of working with the Pakistani authorities to determine their legal status, and formal charges haven't been brought," Kelly said. 
Declining to make any comment on the Lahore court verdict, Kelly said: "What we're interested in is that their legal rights are being respected, that local law is being followed, and that they have access to legal counsel. And we normally provide them with a list of lawyers who are available in the matter that theyre being held for."

The spokesperson said the obligations of the State Department are to work with the local authorities to ensure that whatever charges are brought against them are done in accordance with due process and with local law, and that the conditions they're being held under are decent conditions. "And those particular conditions have been met," he said. Asked if the US has formally asked for their deportation or extradition, he said: "I am not aware that we have formally asked for their they haven't been charged. We can't ask for their for extradition unless there are charges pending, and there are no charges pending."

Lalit K Jha in Washington