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Mohammad Saif Ur Rehman Khan, Pakistani Man, Says False Alarm At U.S. Embassy in Chile Led To Detention

Chile Us Embassy

05/18/10 07:23 PM ET   AP

SANTIAGO, Chile — A Pakistani detained in Chile said Tuesday the positive test for explosive traces he registered at the U.S. Embassy was likely a false alarm and denied any wrongdoing. He said he holds no ill will toward America.

Mohammad Saif Ur Rehman Khan was detained May 10 after the embassy said tests detected explosive traces on his cell phone and papers. Chilean authorities said they later found traces of the same substance on items in his apartment and charged him with possessing explosives.

The 28-year-old read a statement in English to reporters outside the public defenders office Tuesday, professing his innocence and calling the allegations against him "baseless and false." He said the case appeared "to have stemmed from a false alarm."

Soon after his arrest, Khan told local media he thought his detention was an attempt to cover up shame for America's actions in Iraq and Pakistan.

But on Tuesday he was less critical of the United States.

"I have friends and family in the United States of America and more than anyone I want America to be safe and secure," he said. "I have been to the U.S. and I greatly admire the American values of truth, justice and freedom."

In Tuesday's statement, Khan repeated his claim that he was in Chile to learn Spanish and study the tourism industry.

Khan has been released from detention but is not allowed to leave Chile's capital pending the investigation. He is staying at a student residence in Santiago.

A summary of the closed hearing posted on the judiciary's website Saturday said both TNT and tetryl – a chemical that boosts the power of explosives – were found on his cell phone and documents at the embassy. It added that a police search of his room later found the same chemicals on his clothes, a suitcase and a computer bag.

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Filed by Tom Kent  |