Wed, Feb 23 15:42 PM EST
By Mark Hosenball
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Two U.S. citizens with diplomatic status were quietly withdrawn from Pakistan after being involved in a fatal car accident last month while trying to help Raymond Davis, a CIA contractor being held by Pakistani authorities on murder charges.
Two officials familiar with U.S. government activities in Pakistan said the two Americans who left the country worked for the CIA under contract as protective officers. This means they were employed as highly skilled bodyguards, like Davis, for CIA operations officers serving in Pakistan.
The two Americans who left Pakistan have not been otherwise identified by U.S. or Pakistani authorities. The CIA declined to comment.
According to a translated Pakistani police statement obtained by Reuters, the two Americans got into the car crash while trying to go to the aid of Davis, who U.S. sources say claims he shot dead two Pakistanis on a motorcycle when they tried to rob him at gunpoint as he was driving in Lahore.
The police report says the vehicle used by the unidentified Americans, a Landcruiser belonging to the U.S. consulate in Lahore, drove the wrong way down a one-way street.
It struck and killed a motorcyclist named Muhammad Ibad-ur-Rehman, the report said, and "fled from the scene of the incident."
The two U.S. officials confirmed media reports the two men involved in the fatal accident were working and living in the same building in Lahore as Davis. They said all three men were working on similar security assignments for the CIA.
Pakistani officials and news reports have said items recovered from Davis included a telescope, a 9mm pistol and a camera containing pictures of bridges and religious schools known as madrassas.
Current and former U.S. national security officials familiar with the role of CIA "protective officer" contractors say it would be routine for them to do reconnaissance missions to chart safe travel routes and spot security threats.
U.S. officials deny media reports that Davis was involved in some kind of undercover counter-terrorism operations.
They also deny reports from Pakistan suggesting that Davis’ assailants had some link to the Inter Services Intelligence directorate, Pakistan’s principal intelligence agency.
Elements of the ISI have been involved in secretly supporting U.S. counter-terrorism operations in Pakistan, including a long-running campaign to attack suspected militant camps using missiles fired from unmanned drone aircraft.
(Additional reporting by Mubasher Bokhari in Lahore; Editing by John O’Callaghan and Philip Barbara)