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Karzai confirms he intervened to get arrested official released

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • Afghanistan's president says he helped get an arrested official released
  • The security official was detained on allegations of corruption
  • The arrest and subsequent release raised questions about anti-corruption efforts

(CNN) -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai confirmed Sunday that he engineered the release of Mohammed Zia Saleh, a top security official arrested earlier this year on suspicion of corruption.

Karzai told the ABC program "This Week" that Saleh's arrest at his home by armed, masked agents evoked memories of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.

"I have intervened," Karzai said. "I am the president of the country. I must uphold the constitution and do things legally."

Karzai's commitment to ending chronic corruption in Afghanistan has been questioned due to incidents such as Saleh's release and the president's efforts to exert control over anti-corruption units set up with assistance from U.S. security agencies.

"The bodies will stay to work, but they should be within the confines of the Afghan law, within the confines of the Afghan penal code with sovereign rights," Karzai said.

He said he "intervened very strongly" in the Saleh case because "this man was taken out of his home at night by 30" masked, armed men.

Such a detention reminded the Afghan people of the Soviet occupation, Kazai said.

"That case is already under investigation. Questions are continuing to be asked," he said.