Contractor Raymond Azar is arrested in Afghanistan, hooded, stripped and flown to the U.S. His alleged crime? Bribery. A human rights activist calls the case 'bizarre.'
Reporting from Alexandria, Va. - A Lebanese citizen being held in a detention center here was hooded, stripped naked for photographs and bundled onto an executive jet by FBI agents in Afghanistan in April, making him the first known target of a rendition during the Obama administration.
Unlike terrorism suspects who were secretly snatched by the CIA and harshly interrogated and imprisoned overseas during the George W. Bush administration, Raymond Azar was flown to this Washington suburb for a case involving inflated invoices.
Azar, 45, pleaded guilty Tuesday to conspiracy to commit bribery, the only charge against him. He faces a maximum of five years in prison, but a sentence of 2 1/2 years or less is likely under federal guidelines.
Defense lawyers and prosecutors declined to comment on the case Friday.
But Joanne Mariner, terrorism and counter-terrorism director at Human Rights Watch, called the case "bizarre."
"He was treated like a high-security terrorist instead of someone accused of a relatively minor white-collar crime," she said.
No "rendition" of actual terrorists and certainly no waterboarding, but inflate invoices, and you get stripped naked, hooded, photographed and spirited half way across the world.
Notice the somewhat passive reaction to this situation adopted by Human Rights Watch and imagine if this has been done by the Bush administration.
"Bizarre' doesn't even begin to describe it.