Conflicting Reports Over Iraqi Officials’ Release

Interior Minister Said All Were Released, National Security Minister Says 19 Still Held

by Jason Ditz, December 20, 2008

Yesterday, Iraqi Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani declared the rumors of a coup plot linked to the arrests of dozens of his ministry’s officials “a big lie” and announced that all those arrested had been released. In most nations that would’ve been the end to the story, but in Iraq things are rarely so straightforward.

National Security Minister Sherwan al-Waili however, has told The Associated Press that only 19 were arrested in the incident, and that they were all still being held. Waili said the arrests were related to violations inside the Interior Ministry, including forgery, and that they were not, as previously claimed, politically motivated. Bolani’s office reiterated that all the men had been released.

Exactly what happened still isn’t clear, and speculation seems rampant. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki claiming those who spoke about a coup were “illusionists,” while MP Abbas al-Bayati claimed 35 were arrested, and they belong to the banned al-Awda party. An unnamed source in Diyala Province’s council claims that two of them had ties to al-Qaeda, and were involved in attacks in the province.

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