Update (Wednesday): The Guardian now has a story on this situation.
We learn from Dawn.com Tuesday that Raymond Davis, a US “consular employee” who killed two men on Thursday in Lahore, has been placed on the exit control list, barring his exit from Pakistan. Remarkably, Representative Darrell Issa led a small Congressional delegation that met on Tuesday with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zadari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, seeking release of Davis, according to Pakistan’s Online International News Network. Those meetings came a day after State Department spokesman Philip Crowley declared that as a consular employee, Davis has full diplomatic immunity.
The story in Dawn.com opens with Davis’ exit from Pakistan being blocked:
A judge on Tuesday blocked any move to hand over to US authorities an American government employee under investigation for double murder, and put his name on the exit control list.
“I am restraining him (from being handed over to US authorities). Whether he has or does not have (diplomatic) immunity will be decided by the court,” ruled Lahore High Court Chief Justice Ejaz Ahmed Chaudhry.
“An order is issued to put his name on the ECL (exit control list). The case is adjourned for 15 days.”
The story ends with this intriguing revelation:
When asked by visiting US congressmen on Monday to free Davis, Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari said: “It would be prudent to wait for the legal course to be completed”.
After a bit of digging, I found this story on the visiting delegation:
A US congressional delegation Monday separately called on President Asif Ali Zardari at Aiwan-e-Sadr and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani at PM House. The delegation included Representatives Darell El Issa, Todd R. Platts, Jason Chaffetz, Stephen F. Lynch, Brian M. Higgins and Raul L. Labrador. Mr. Stephen Engelken, Charge d’ Affairs, Mr. Thomas A. Alexander, senior Counsel (Majority) Committee on Oversight, Mr. Adam Pl. Fromm, Counsel (Majority) Director of Member Services and Mr. Scott Lindsay, Counsel (Majority) Committee on Oversight, were also present.
Pak side included Dr. Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, Finance Minister, Mr. M. Salman Faruqui, Secretary General to the President, Ch. Abdul Ghafoor, Chairman National Commission for Government Reforms , Ms. Hina Rabbani Khar, MOS for EAD/Finance, Senator Syeda Sughra Imam, Ms. Farahnaz Ispahani and Spokesperson to the President Mr. Farhatullah Babar besides Foreign Secretary Mr. Salman Bashir and other senior officials. Briefing media Spokesperson to the President Mr. Farhatullah Babar said that matters relating to Pak-US bilateral relations, mutual cooperation, fight against militancy, ROZs and security situation in the region among other related issues were discussed during the meeting.
But why would a Congressional delegation working on trade and terrorism control involve itself in the Davis case? More from the same link:
Babar said the Congressmen also raised the matter of Mr. Raymond Davis, involved in the killing of Pakistani nationals in Lahore, with the President. The President said that he appreciated their concern but the matter was already before the courts. It would be prudent to wait for the legal course to be completed, he said.
Requests for Davis’ release had already been publicly issued by the State Department. From AFP:
“He is a member of the embassy’s technical administrative staff and therefore entitled to full criminal immunity. He cannot be lawfully arrested or detained in accordance with the Vienna Convention,” said State Department spokesman Philip Crowley on Monday.
Crowley said Washington agreed with the US employee’s version of events: “In our view, he acted in self-defense, when confronted by two armed men on motorcycles.”
The video above brings the US version of events into question. Note that both of Davis’ victims were shot multiple times, which seems at odds with mere self-defense. Note also on the crawler near the end of the video where it is stated that some are charging Davis with being a spy. That is most likely the true heart of the matter. ABC News has done some digging on Davis and has come up with this bit of background:
Davis runs Hyperion Protective Consultants, LLC, a company that provides “loss and risk management professionals.”
A key question as this story continues to unfold will be whether Davis (or Hyperion) was directly employed by the consulate or if he was working as a contractor for another entity such as Erik Prince’s Xe. At any rate, if requests for his release were deemed worthy of direct requests from a Congressional delegation to Pakistan’s President and Prime Minister in separate meetings, it is probably safe to assume that Davis’ “technical” responsibilities in the consulate were not insignificant.
Also note that Crowley claimed that Davis’s victims were small-time thieves who had robbed another victim shortly before they encountered Davis:
The diplomat, Raymond Davis, “had every reason to believe that the armed men meant him bodily harm. And minutes earlier, the two men, who had criminal records, had robbed money and valuables at gunpoint from a Pakistani citizen in the same area,” said Crowley.
There is no mention of the earlier robbery in the Pakistani news video above.