Presidential aide released on Karzai`s intervention

A close aide of the Afghan President was arrested on corruption charges, but released on the personal intervention of Hamid Karzai.

Washington: A close aide of the Afghan
President was arrested on corruption charges, but released on
the personal intervention of Hamid Karzai.

Mohammad Zia Salehi, the head of the Afghan National
Security Council, was arrested last month on charges of
soliciting bribes, providing luxury vehicles to presidential
allies and over telephonic contacts with the Taliban, the
Washington Post reported.

The intervention by Karzai came after Afghan
investigators had begun to pursue corruption cases against his
aide and possibly other Karzai allies inside the Presidential
palace, the paper said.

It said Salehi`s arrest had been approved by the
country`s attorney general and that Karzai acted directly to
secure his aide`s release.

The paper said a commission formed by Karzai after Salehi
was released had concluded that Afghan police, who had carried
out the investigation with support from the US-backed law
enforcement units, had violated his human rights and were
operating outside the constitution.

The US agencies which had worked on the case include
Major Crime`s Task Force and sensitive investigative units and
Salehi`s arrest followed months of inquiries by the Afghan
investigative units, a police team vetted and trained by US
Drug Enforcement Administration.

The paper said the investigators presented their
evidences to the attorney general`s office before carrying out
the arrest.

It said Salehi a Pushtun from Wardak province has played
a key role in Karzai`s efforts to win reconciliation with
Taliban insurgents.

Quoting Afghan officials, the paper said Salehi was in
direct contact with various factions within Taliban and
arranged meetings between the Karzai administration and
members of Taliban and Hezb-i-islami.

It was unclear why contacts with insurgents had concerned
investigators, the paper said, describing Salehi as "one of
the most trusted staff members in the presidential palace to
do special things".

Quoting Rahmatullah Nazari, a deputy attorney general,
the Post said wiretapped conversation had produced evidence
that Salehi had accepted gifts in return for playing a role in
opposing corruption investigations against a finance firm, New
Ansari, Afghanistan`s largest money transfer business.

The report of arrest and release of a top presidential
aide comes in the backdrop of recent disclosures by Financial
Times of investigations being launched to probe transfer of
huge amounts almost running into millions of dollars of cash
from Kabul airport.

The US federal agencies as well as Afghan investigators
believe that the massive cash outflow was part of drug and
corruption money being diverted to tax havens.


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