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Report: Accused Killer Raymond Davis Was CIA Spy in Pakistan

Feb 21, 2011 – 12:18 PM
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Lauren Frayer

Lauren Frayer Contributor

It started out suspiciously: An all-American-looking man in a plaid shirt and jeans pulled a Glock pistol on two motorcyclists last month in Pakistan, police said, shooting them dead in the street in broad daylight.

Initial reports had Raymond Davis firing his gun in self-defense during a robbery attempt. But then police searched his car and found multiple guns, cell phones, infrared lights and survival gear.

Meanwhile, a U.S. diplomatic car racing to the scene crashed and killed another Pakistani man en route. Then the widow of one of the men committed suicide.

Raymond Allen Davis
Hamza Ahmed, AP
Pakistani security officials escort Raymond Allen Davis, center, to a local court in Lahore on Jan. 28.
The plot had thickened.

Now it turns out that Davis, who has been at the center of a diplomatic row between the U.S. and Pakistan, was a CIA agent, according to a government official quoted today in The New York Times.

That could complicate Washington's efforts to get him freed. The U.S. consulate in Lahore, where the shootings took place on a busy thoroughfare on Jan. 27, has been insisting that Davis was a civilian employee with diplomatic immunity. Even President Barack Obama entered the fray, referring to Davis in a speech last week as "our diplomat in Pakistan."

Diplomats are entitled to immunity from local prosecution under the Vienna Conventions. But Davis was driving around Pakistan in a car with local license plates, without informing local authorities -- something that is required out of concern for diplomats' safety. His suspicious circumstances have raised questions about whether the U.S. lied about his real job in Pakistan. American officials have refused to comment about whether Davis is a spy.

The 36-year-old is a former Special Forces soldier who left the U.S. military in 2003. Since then he claims to have been working for a security firm called Hyperion LLC, under a contract with the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan. But the BBC reported that Hyperion exists only as a website, and its offices in Florida have been vacant for several years -- raising questions about whether it could be a front for the CIA.

"It's beyond a shadow of a doubt," an unnamed senior Pakistani intelligence official told The Guardian about Davis' suspected CIA link.

Pakistani police said that after reviewing details of the Lahore shootings, they're certain Davis didn't fire out of self-defense. Prosecutors have charged Davis with murder and allege that he fired 10 shots, even getting out of his car to shoot one of the men twice in the back as he fled. The man's body was found 30 feet from his motorcycle.

"It went way beyond what we define as self-defense. It was not commensurate with the threat," a senior police official told The Guardian.

Now Raymond Davis has become a household name in Pakistan, reviled as a symbol of allegedly dangerous U.S. meddling in the country, and of the double-standard diplomatic immunity allows for foreign emissaries who violate local laws. His name has been sprawled across banners in crowds of angry Pakistanis taking to the streets to protest his alleged murders, demanding justice for the victims. An effigy of Davis was burned in Karachi.

Last week, a Pakistani judge delayed a hearing on Davis' case for another three weeks, after Pakistan's foreign ministry asked for more time to figure out whether he has diplomatic immunity. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., a major backer of the $3 billion the U.S. gives Pakistan each year in aid, also flew to Islamabad last week to argue that Davis be freed.

The question of whether that will happen hinges on Davis' specific diplomatic status. Those who want to see Davis tried for murder have seized on a discrepancy in diplomatic notes sent from the U.S. Embassy to Pakistan's Foreign Ministry.

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According to The Washington Post, the first note, dated Jan. 27, described Davis as "an employee of U.S. Consulate General Lahore and holder of a diplomatic passport." But a second note, on Feb. 3, described him as a member of the "administrative and technical staff" of the U.S. Embassy. That different phrasing could indicate different levels of diplomatic immunity.

Davis is not the first diplomat accused of committing murder while on a foreign posting. In 1982, the son of the Brazilian ambassador to the U.S. shot and wounded a bouncer at a Washington nightclub and escaped prosecution because of diplomatic immunity. But in 1997, Georgian officials waived diplomatic immunity for the No. 2 official at the Georgian Embassy in Washington, after the man killed a teenage girl in a drunken-driving incident. He was prosecuted and convicted of manslaughter.
Filed under: Nation, World, Politics
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