Islamabad: An American who entered Pakistan last week after being expelled from the country five years earlier will be deported again after being interrogated, the interior minister said on Saturday.
Matthew Barrett, a 33-year-old Alabama native, had spent four years in Pakistan, where he married a local woman and had two children, before being kicked out of the country in 2011 after being detained near a sensitive military installation.
The US and Pakistan are allies but have had fraught relations over the years.
Washington has at times accused Islamabad of failing to do enough to combat terrorism. Pakistan was angered by the US commando raid that killed Osama bin Laden north of Islamabad in 2011, which was carried out without its knowledge.
Pakistan’s Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said Barrett was never suspected of spying, but was involved in “wrongdoing,” without elaborating.
Khan said Barrett was detained at a guest house in the capital, Islamabad, last week after he submitted incorrect information in a visa application to the Pakistani Consulate in Houston.
In media reports and a letter smuggled from jail in 2011 to the Guardian newspaper, Barrett denied he was a spy and claimed to be a victim of simmering US-Pakistani tensions following the bin Laden raid. He was eventually deported and blacklisted.
Pakistani authorities have arrested two airport immigration staffers who cleared Barrett’s re-entry and have launched an investigation into the incident.
Barrett’s detention was today extended for two weeks, according to Raja Nazeer, an attorney representing the two immigration officials.
Nazeer said Barrett has a valid visa. Barrett told the court he returned to collect documents for his wife and children, who relocated to the United States in 2011, and that he had not paid any bribes or had any prior acquaintance with the immigration officials, Nazeer said.
The lawyer said the case against Barrett “has no grounds.”
Barrett was arrested in his hometown, Huntsville, Alabama, in April 2013 for drug possession. A report in The Huntsville Times quoting court records said he was arrested April 4 at a house on Whitesburg Drive. It said Madison County drug enforcement agents found marijuana, LSD and prescription pain medication.