Raymond Davis is a Spy? Not So, Says U.S.

Relations between the United States and Pakistan are heating up as the details surrounding an imprisoned American become less clear. Raymond Davis was arrested by Pakistani officials in January on murder charges after shooting and killing two men. He claims that they approached him in his car with guns drawn in an attempt to rob him after successfully robbing another person. Since the incident, Davis has been kept in detention despite his diplomatic status. The United States stands by their statement that Davis entered Pakistan with a diplomatic passport and is a member of the technical and administrative staff of the embassy in Islamabad. Therefore, he should be granted diplomatic immunity.

Pakistan is countering these statements with claims of their own. The two men killed, say anonymous officials, were not robbers but employees of Pakistan’s intelligence agency, Inter-Services Intelligence. The officials stated that after tracking calls made from Davis’ cell phone, they were able to ascertain that he was in contact with people in the Waziristan tribal areas, where the Taliban and other militant groups have a safe haven. The men had been assigned to tail Davis because he was thought to be spying and that they did so for two hours before they came face to face with Davis.

The State Department’s spokesman, P.J. Crowley, says that “we don’t find the reports credible”. The U.S. maintains that Davis’ detention is illegal and is applying steadily increasing pressure to have him released. Secretary Clinton cancelled a meeting with the Pakistani Foreign Minister this week and threats are being made to cut off Pakistan’s military funding – about $2 billion in aid a year. The U.S. believes that Davis is being held only because releasing him may cause unrest in Pakistan, where anti-U.S. sentiments are common. The Pakistani officials partially agreed with that, acknowledging that Davis’ release could at least temporarily weaken the federal government and spark protests in Lahore, where the shootings took place, and perhaps across the country.

Recently, Davis appeared in court without a translator and without prior notification to the U.S. Officials say those events convinced them Davis could not receive a fair trial in Pakistan, although his diplomatic immunity excludes him from any trial at all. A Pakistani judge has extended his detention for another eight days while the government and judicial systems decide their next move.

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