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All 12 detained in Amsterdam are Indians

Last updated on: August 24, 2006 20:07 IST

All the 12 persons detained in Amsterdam following a security alert on an American airliner are Mumbai-born, Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma said in New Delhi.

"We have got the list of the 12 people. They all were born in Mumbai. Nobody has been arrested as per the latest information but detentions are there," Sharma told reporters here. The Indian embassy in Amsterdam has been given consular access to the detained people, who all had addresses in Mumbai, he said.

"We have to ascertain and get the details. They are all from Mumbai and they all have Mumbai addresses," Sharma said. It was, however, not known how many of them were carrying Indian passports.

Those detained were identified as Sohail Abdul Aziz Nizami, Ayub Qadir, Sajid Qadir, Yusuf Haji Ghaffar Memon, Nur Mohammed Batliwala, Shakeel Usman Chotani, Ayub Khan, Ehsan Farooqi, Ghulam Mustafa, Mohammed Yusuf, Mohammed Imran and Mohammed Iqbal Batliwala.

Sharma said the Dutch government had not given any information so far on the detained people. "It was on the initiative of our mission (in Amsterdam) that we got the names...and now consular access has been set in motion," he said. "The government has asked the mission to meet these people and to see what has happened there."

They had gone to Port of Spain in the West Indies, in connection with their garment business..

Earlier, the flight that was rescheduled to fly from Amsterdam to Mumbai on Thursday was cancelled and the remaining passengers were rebooked on other Northwest Airlines flight.

Local prosecutor Ed Hartjes said the men arrested were Indians but refused to go into details why there were in custody. They "got something" that was not allowed on board the flight and this matter was "important enough to be investigated", he said.

Dutch interrogators have so far found no signs that the men posed "a terrorist threat", a spokeswoman for Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner said in Amsterdam. She declined to say why they remained under arrest. Prosecutors have three days before they have to file charges.

According to Ministry of External Affairs sources in New Delhi, the 12 Indians are likely to be released soon. "It seems like a case of Western security guys getting too hyper" said a source in.

The MEA is actively trying to secure their release as soon as possible, the source added.

Northwest Airlines flight No 42 from Minneapolis to Mumbai was escorted to Amsterdam's Schipol airport Wednesday by two F-16 fighters after its crew reported some passengers had displayed "behaviour of concern". Soon after, Dutch authorities reported that 12 people had been detained for questioning.

With PTI inputs