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Calls by Man Claiming Torture in Afghanistan Made From Pakistan

Aired January 22, 2002 - 12:57   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: We are getting late word of a development in a story we were following from last week, a Alabama man who has been working as a volunteer over in Afghanistan who called his wife to say he had been kidnapped. Now there is some strange and interesting word coming from where those phone calls he made were coming from.

Our Gary Tuchman is on the phone right now. He has been following this development for us.

Gary, what have you learned?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Leon, a U.S. government official confirmed to CNN that calls traced to Clark Bowers' satellite phone while he was allegedly held captive in Afghanistan have been traced to Pakistan.

Thirty-seven-year-old Clark Bowers called his wife a week and a half ago to say he had been kidnapped by a warlord in Afghanistan along with an interpreter. His wife gave the world this information. His wife also said she was waiting for a phone call from her husband about how to send ransom to get him free.

She received the call eight days ago, and said her husband called her, and said he was calling from Afghanistan and $25,000 needed to be sent to secure his release. Now this U.S. government official says that traced both of those phone calls -- at least two satellite phone calls, the one asking for the ransom, and the one saying he had been kidnapped -- and they say that both those calls came from Pakistan.

As it turned out, Clark Bowers called his wife on a regular phone this past Friday, saying that he had been freed after being tortured, and saying that he arranged for his own transportation to Karachi, Pakistan. So he admitted he had been calling from Pakistan after he was released.

However, CNN has also was told that a U.S. official met with Bowers this past Saturday in Pakistan, but Bowers would not talk about his experiences. He stayed mum about the situation.

Clark Bowers says he was on a humanitarian mission to Afghanistan, that he was kidnapped and tortured with 22 holes in his skin from burning rods and cigarette butts. He is a self-employed political consultant, but according to the U.S. government, the calls he made wherein he claimed he was in Afghanistan did not even come from Afghanistan.

Leon, back to you.

HARRIS: Gary, let me ask you this: Do U.S. officials now say they do not believe he was ever kidnapped in the first place, or what?

TUCHMAN: It is important for us to stress, Leon, they never had -- U.S. government officials -- any independent proof that he was kidnapped. All of the information came interest his wife, and they, certainly, were checking on it, because that is the duty of U.S. government officials, to protect Americans. They were not saying he wasn't kidnapped; they were just they didn't any proof he was kidnapped. However, now they are saying that these two very important phone calls, that they traced, never came from Afghanistan.

HARRIS: So now even by his own story, he is a free man. Do we know exactly where he is right now?

TUCHMAN: He is a free man, and I talked to his wife, Amanda, who seriously stands up for her husband and trusts and believes him, and what she is telling us is he will be coming back to the United States this week, and he is planning on making himself available to us to talk to as early as this weekend. But it is not clear, with this information now coming from the U.S. government, that that promise will be kept.

HARRIS: Very interesting. If he does come back, you know we want to talk to him, Gary, get some proof of these 22 holes or whatever.

TUCHMAN: We certainly do, Leon.

HARRIS: Gary Tuchman, thanks very much, Gary.

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