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Pakistani journalist calls for death penalty for CIA station chief

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A Pakistani journalist who says he lost his family in a US drone strike has sued the CIA for $500 million, and is filing a request to keep the CIA’s alleged station chief in Islamabad from leaving the country.

“We appeal to the authorities not to let Jonathan Banks escape from Pakistan,” said Karim Khan, as quoted at the Guardian. “He should be arrested and executed in this country.”

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Jonathan Banks has not been officially confirmed as the CIA’s top agent in Pakistan, but Pakistani news sources have previously identified a person by that name as being CIA station chief, and at least one news source has reported that he is in Pakistan on a business visa, meaning he may not be protected by diplomatic immunity.

The Guardian reports:

Khan says that his brother and son, both government employees, were killed in a CIA drone strike on their home near Mir Ali in North Waziristan in December 2009.

Press reports named the target as Haji Omar, a leading Taliban commander. Khan insists that Omar was not in the house and that his relatives were innocent. “These men had nothing to do with the Taliban,” said his lawyer, Shahzad Akbar.

Mir Ali is a hotbed of al-Qaida and Taliban militancy that has borne the brunt of a sharp escalation in US attacks this year.

Khan’s “unusual legal bid has slim chances of success,” the Guardian posits. “The CIA has rarely been successfully sued at home, much less abroad. And the recent WikiLeaks cables revealed secret Pakistani government support for the drones.”

The Pakistani website The News reports that other Pakistanis who claim to have lost family in drone strikes are interested in joining the lawsuit.

According to the New America Foundation, an estimated 1,290 to 1,985 people have died in drone strikes in Pakistan since 2004. Of those, about three-quarters have been “described as militants.”

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