A Pakistani judge today extended the detention of an American who police say was caught trying to sneak into a militant-infested region near the Afghan border.
Judge Nasrullah Khan granted police two more days to question the 20-year-old, who has been identified as Jude Kenan. Police had sought an extra week.
Police had brought Kenan to the court in a town in Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province in handcuffs. The bearded suspect was dressed in the long shirt and baggy trousers worn by many Pakistani men.
Police detained Kenan on Monday at a checkpoint leading into Mohmand, a tribal region considered a haunt of the so called al-Qaida and Taliban fighters. Officials say he lacked the permission required for foreigners to enter the tribal belt.
Inside the courtroom, local police chief Qayyum Khan said officers wanted to know what motivated the man to come to the region. However, he gave no indication that they suspected him of links with fighters in the region.
"We need more time to interrogate him to know the purpose of his presence" in the region, Khan said.
After the brief hearing, an Associated Press reporter tried to talk to Kenan. The suspect seemed ready to speak, but police quickly put Kenan in a vehicle and drove him away.
U.S. consular officials in Pakistan have visited Kenan and are providing him with consular assistance. The American Embassy has given few other details, citing privacy concerns.
Kenan’s uncle, Evan Risueno, has said that his nephew left for Pakistan on Oct. 3 from Raleigh, North Carolina, and that he planned to visit his father, who is Pakistani, and two sisters who live in Pakistan.
Risueno said Kenan had visited Pakistan before without encountering any problems.
Pakistan is a key ally of the United States in its war on terror, and it has handed over hundreds of foreign terror suspects to Washington after capturing them from various parts of the country since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in the United States.
It has also deployed over 100,000 troops to counter Taliban and al-Qaida militants from border regions including Mohmand.
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