A Pakistani court on Monday issued an order preventing the immediate deportation of five young Americans arrested for trying to link up with Islamist militant groups in the country, a lawyer said.
The men were detained last week on suspicion of trying to contact Al Qaeda-linked organisations and engage in militant activities, possibly in the lawless northwest tribal belt where the Taliban insurgency is fiercest.
“The Lahore High Court has directed federal and provincial governments to not hand over the US nationals who were arrested last week from Sargodha on allegations of a terror plot,” said Tariq Asad, a Supreme Court lawyer.
Asad submitted the petition on behalf of a human rights group, appealing against the deportation of the men on the grounds that an fair investigation must be carried out and the rights of the suspects be protected.
Khalid Khawaja of the Defence of Human Rights Pakistan, said that the men must be tried under Pakistani law if any evidence of crimes surfaced, rather then being handed over to US custody.
“If there is no accusation or no grounds for detention, the (government) must be directed to release them forthwith,” he said.
A report on the detention of the five and possible charges must be supplied to the high court by December 17, Asad said, before any further decisions are made on their possible deportation to the United States or into FBI custody.