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16 August 2004 -- Three Americans accused of running a private jail and torturing Afghan citizens reappeared before a Kabul court today.

The leader of the group, former U.S. soldier Jonathan Idema, has claimed that he and the other two Americans and their Afghan employees were working on counterterrorism operations with the approval of senior Pentagon officials, including Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

The U.S. and Afghan governments have both rejected having any ties to Idema.

However, U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan have admitted they did have some contact with the group.

The three defendants were arrested in July in Kabul and face charges including hostage-taking and torture. Their trial started on 21 July.

(AFP/BBC)
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