A former Iraqi Cabinet minister who escaped from a Baghdad prison last month defended his jailbreak and said here Monday he was planning to return to his home in Illinois.Wonder if Durbin and Obama's Offices are the friends negotiating his return. Those are the Offices his family turned too for help.
Ayham al-Samaraie, Iraq's former minister of electricity who holds U.S. and Iraqi citizenship, had been serving time for corruption when he escaped mid-December.
Al-Samaraie said he fled because he feared being killed or kidnapped. He said he would return to his home in Oak Brook, outside Chicago, as long as he receives assurances that he won't face U.S. legal problems related to his offenses inside Iraq.
``I am going home next week,'' al-Samaraie said at a press conference in a Dubai hotel. ``I didn't break any U.S. laws.''
Al-Samaraie affected a confident, jaunty tone in rambling remarks that he said were aimed at clearing his name. He said his friends were negotiating with U.S. government officials to enable his return to the United States.
``All indications are that I can return,'' said al-Samaraie, who was appointed to the Iraqi transitional government in 2003.
He said the charges against him in Iraq other than those related to the jailbreak were motivated by politics. Al-Samaraie said he was confident the international police agency Interpol would not issue a warrant against him.
``I'm not a fugitive from justice,'' he said. ``Interpol won't interfere with politics.''
For those wondering how he got out,
The former minister said Americans were involved in his jailbreak, but none were affiliated with the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. He declined to say whether any of his American accomplices worked for the U.S. government.
Al-Samaraie used the help of several associates to mount a brazen escape from an Iraqi-run jail inside the heavily fortified Green Zone. Soon after, he said he flew from Baghdad to Jordan by brandishing what he said was his own passport. Al-Samaraie declined to say whether he traveled on his Iraqi passport or one of two U.S. passports he flashed at the news conference.
Asked for details of his escape, he smiled and said, ``It's not that difficult. Anyone can enter and leave the Green Zone.''
He argued that his departure from jail was actually legal because an Iraqi court had ordered Dec. 17 that he be released. He believes that if he was taken outside the relative safety of the Green Zone, he might be killed or kidnapped.
``For the sake of my friends and family I had to do it,'' he said. ``I freed myself from jail. It was a bad jail and a bad charge.''
Al-Samaraie was detained in August, convicted of corruption and sentenced to two years imprisonment. The charges concerned an estimated $2 billion in missing funds for contracts on rebuilding Iraq's electrical infrastructure.