Australia’s disclosure on Patek spoiled Osama mission?

Umer Patek was captured by Pak officials in Abbottabad on January 25, 2011.

Updated: May 06, 2011, 16:29 PM IST

Melbourne: Pakistan`s ISI has claimed that Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd`s disclosure on arrest of Bali bomber Umer Patek in Abbottabad could have blown the top-secret US operation to kill Osama bin Laden.

According to `Herald Sun`, Pakistan`s spy agency ISI claimed Rudd "shattered" a confidence by publicly confirming the arrest of al Qaeda acolyte Patek in late March.

Patek was captured by Pakistani security officials in Abbottabad on January 25, 2011. Patek is believed to have served as the assistant for the field coordinator of the 2002 bombings in Bali, Indonesia, which killed 202 people.

ISI spokesman was quoted by the newspaper as saying that Pakistani authorities had deliberately kept secret Patek`s arrest in January - in the same town where bin Laden was found and killed this week - for fear that "subsequent leads would all go dead".

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Julia Gillard today defended Rudd against claims he jeopardised the hunt for Osama, the AAP reported. Rejecting the Pakistani criticism, Gillard said, "The minister acted entirely appropriately."

"The minister spoke about this matter after receiving advice from Australian security agencies and when it was already being comprehensively reported in the media," she said.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade`s most senior official, secretary Dennis Richardson, yesterday dismissed the claims as "untrue and absurd".

The ISI spokesman said they were dismayed when Rudd, on March 30, confirmed the arrest at the end of a Bali Process meeting he co-chaired with Indonesia`s Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa.

"Information on the arrest of such people is not released for as long as possible so we have time to get his contacts because there`s always a fish bigger than him," he said.

"If the news gets out that this person has been arrested then all his contacts disappear. That`s precisely why we did not do it but somebody else beat us to it.”

“Your guys (Australia), in their wisdom, thought it would be good to score a point. They had no hand in his arrest. We`re the ones who arrested him and we shared that information with them in confidence and that confidence we found was shattered when they immediately went public with the information."

PTI