ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — A Pakistani court on Saturday sent a U.S. citizen suspected of being a security contractor but arrested for visa violations in Pakistan on a two-week judicial remand to prison.
Aaron Mark DeHaven was seized by Pakistani law enforcement agencies on Thursday in Peshawar, the capital of Islamist militancy-plagued northwestern province of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, on charges that he had stayed in the country for months after his visa expired.
DeHaven told local judge Qudrat Ullah that he was running a private business in Peshawar and had no link with any project run by the U.S. government.
However, McClatchy Newspapers said it was told by a Pakistani intelligence official who spoke on condition of anonymity that DeHaven was the regional head of the private U.S. security contractor Xe, formerly known as Blackwater.
Pakistani and U.S. authorities have officially denied the presence of controversial Blackwater in Pakistan but the intelligence official insisted that the Blackwater/Xe company works under the name of "Catalyst Services" and DeHaven was heading that company in Peshawar, McClatchy Newspapers said.
The United States has hired security firms to protect its employees working on development projects in Pakistan.
A statement from the U.S. embassy in Islamabad said that it was aware of the arrest of an American national and trying to arrange consular access through the Pakistani government.
The arrest of DeHaven came at a time when public pressure is building on the Pakistani government to bring another U.S. citizen, Raymond Davis, to justice. Davis is in custody after he killed two Pakistanis on Jan. 27 in the eastern city of Lahore. Davis claimed he acted in self-defense during an armed robbery attempt, but Pakistani officials alleged that he killed the two men in "cold blood." Washington has said Davis was an embassy employee, and should be immediately released on the grounds of diplomatic immunity. The New York Times and Washington Post, citing U.S. officials, reported last week that Davis was actually a security contractor for the CIA.