Eight months after Aiham Alsammarae escaped from a Baghdad jail and returned to his home in suburban Chicago, an Iraqi judge has thrown the book at him, sentencing the former electricity minister in absentia to 21 years in prison in a corruption case.
Yet Alsammarae, an Oak Brook resident who had gone back to his native Iraq to serve in the government after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, isn't exactly hiding at home. He says he recently returned to the maelstrom of Iraqi politics, traveling to Jordan to join other Iraqi officials in forming an opposition front as he continues to insist on his innocence.
After Alsammarae's escape in December, a U.S. Embassy spokesman said the U.S. would cooperate with Iraqi authorities. Al-Radhi said this week that the Iraqi government had not contacted the U.S. government regarding Alsammarae.I'm not forgetting him. I want to know which Security Contractors helped spring him from jail.
Alsammarae, who travels on his American passport, said he is unlikely to be arrested, despite the Interpol warrant. He says he had a working relationship with the U.S. government since before the war, and he is counting on U.S. officials to remember his nationality.
"I am American, and I don't like Americans to forget that," he said. "Don't all of you wash your hands of me and say, 'OK, bye, so long.'"