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U.S. ‘Deeply Concerned’ About South Sudan Detention of American

The U.S. said it’s “deeply concerned” about South Sudan’s security forces arbitrarily detaining people including an American set to go on trial on Thanksgiving Day.

The National Security Service arrested Elton Mark McCabe on Oct. 14 and a trial is scheduled for Nov. 22, the U.S. embassy said. His wife, Anne McCabe, said NSS agents abducted him and Iraqi colleague, Mohamed Oglah, and demanded a ransom after falsely accusing him of kidnapping.

“They said if he came up with $100,000 he could be on a plane the same day,” she said by phone yesterday from Slidell, Louisiana. “He was beaten, but he wouldn’t go into detail about what they did to him.”

At least a third of the prison population in South Sudan, which became Africa’s newest state when it seceded from Sudan in July, 2011, hasn’t been convicted of a crime or even charged, New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a report.

The U.S. embassy said it had raised McCabe’s case at the highest levels of South Sudan’s government, according to statement e-mailed yesterday.

“The U.S. Embassy remains deeply concerned with reports of arbitrary arrests and detentions, and strongly encourages the South Sudanese government to ensure that Mr. McCabe’s due process rights are upheld,” the embassy said.

Government spokesman Barnaba Marial Benjamin had his phones turned off when called for comment. Police spokesman James Monday said McCabe is being held by the NSS and not the police, although by law he should have been transferred to police custody.

“The details are not known by police,” Monday said by phone from the capital, Juba, today.“The truth will be before the court.”

Oglah invited McCabe to an investment conference in Juba this year and the two secured contracts to build Internet infrastructure and two medical clinic, Anne McCabe said. Oglah and her husband had worked together in Iraq, she said.

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