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Rudd in row over Osama ally Patek's arrest

May 6, 2011 - Jakarta

Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd has been drawn into an ugly international dispute over intelligence revelations, which Pakistan says could have disrupted the top-secret US operation to kill Osama bin Laden.

Pakistan's Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) claims Rudd "shattered" a confidence by publicly confirming the arrest of Bali bomber and al-Qa'ida acolyte Umar Patek in late March.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's most senior official, secretary Dennis Richardson, yesterday dismissed the claims as "untrue and absurd".

But an ISI spokesman told The Australian yesterday Pakistani authorities had deliberately kept secret Patek's arrest in January - in the same town where bin Laden was found and killed this week - for fear that "subsequent leads would all go dead".

The spokesman said they were dismayed when Rudd confirmed the arrest at the end of a Bali Process meeting he co-chaired with Indonesia's Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa on March 30.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has defended Rudd's action as "entirely appropriately".


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