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Separatist leader Fai put under house arrest

Washington: Kashmiri separatist leader Syed Ghulam Nabi Fai was ordered by a US court today to be put under house arrest under electronic surveillance with radio tag to be installed on his knuckles.

Kashmir-born US citizen, Fai, was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) last week on charges of working for the Government of Pakistan, in particular its spy agency, the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), to lobby at the Capitol Hill and the Administration on Kashmir.

At his detention hearing, Magistrate Judge John Anderson at US District Court in Alexandria, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, ordered that Fai be released from prison on a personal bond of USD 100,000 and put under house arrest with electronic surveillance.

62-year-old Fai, headed the Kashmir American Council (KAC), which espoused the cause of Pakistan on Kashmir and campaigned against India in the US.

He has been asked to stay with his wife at the Fairfax residence in Virginia. Both he and his wife Chang Ning Ying Q, who is of Chinese origin, have been asked to surrender their passport.

Fai`s attorney told reporters afterwards that he could be released from the prison. However, no timing has been set yet.

"He would be released tomorrow. He would be in a position potentially to respond more fully to any allegations and questions," Fai`s attorney Nina J Ginsberg, told reporters after the court ordered his release.

"The release (order) has a lot of meaning. It means that he (Fai) can help more easily in preparing the defense. He is required to live in his home and have electronic monitors so that he can?t go any place that he is not permitted by the court to go.

But he will be able to meet with his lawyers and be active in preparing defending his case," Ginsberg said.

Ginsberg said Fai is facing two charges that has five year maximum penalties, if he were convicted on both.

"It is highly unlikely that his sentence would be anywhere in that range," the attorney said.

Giving details of the court`s order Fai`s another attorney Khurram Wahid said, the separatist Kashmiri leader is allowed "home detention" with electronic surveillance.

"He will have a little electronic monitor around his ankle.

The USD 100,000 (of the bail amount) he just signed for.

"It is just his word essentially and it is his wife who is signing for him. She is the third party guarantor here," Wahid said.

"He (Fai) is obviously not allowed to have any contact with the foreign government (except through attorney).

He is also not supposed to have contact with anyone who is alleged in the affidavit who had contact with him in the allegations itself, people who are supposedly with the ISI," Wahid said.

Fai is also supposed to be limited in his activities in terms of he is allowed to go visit his attorney and medical.

"We will work it out with the pre-trial release as to the terms and things that he should be able to go and the schedule for him to be out of the house," Wahid said.

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