Pakistan Judge Orders Charges Against Ex–CIA Officials

Pakistan Judge Orders Charges  Against Ex–CIA OfficialsPakistan Judge Orders Charges  Against Ex–CIA Officials

A Pakistani judge on Tuesday ordered criminal charges to be filed against a former CIA lawyer who oversaw the agency’s drone program and a former station chief in Islamabad over a 2009 strike that killed two people.

Former acting general counsel John A. Rizzo and former station chief Jonathan Bank must face charges of murder, conspiracy, waging war against Pakistan and terrorism, ruled Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui of the Islamabad High Court. A court clerk and a lawyer involved in the case, Mirza Shahzad Akbar, confirmed details of the ruling.

Rizzo and Bank could not be immediately reached for comment. The CIA declined to comment when contacted by Al Jazeera America.

Bank’s cover was blown in late 2010 when a Pakistani man, Kareem Khan, threatened to sue the CIA and others for $500 million over the deaths of his sons Zaenullah Khan and Asif Iqbal in a Dec. 31, 2009, strike in the North Waziristan tribal region.

The Associated Press and other media reported at the time that three people were killed in a missile attack that day in Mir Ali in North Waziristan. Pakistani intelligence officials said then that the men were insurgents but offered no proof.  

As the outrage over the deaths grew, protesters in Islamabad began carrying placards bearing Bank’s name, as listed in the lawsuit, and urging him to leave the country. The CIA pulled Bank from the country on Dec. 16, 2010, when he began receiving death threats.

Rizzo was the CIA’s acting general counsel overseeing its drone program. He later left the agency and wrote a book about his experiences at the CIA.  

The CIA’s drone strike program killed Pakistani Taliban fighters and other insurgents hiding in its tribal regions but has sparked anger across Pakistan over civilian casualties from the strikes.