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Reno Lifted Restrictions on Iraqis

January 24, 2001

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) _ In one of her final acts in office, Attorney General Janet Reno lifted restrictions on travel and employment against five former Iraqi military officers who were thought to be a threat to U.S. security.

The men took part in a CIA effort to overthrow Saddam Hussein and were among 6,500 Iraqi dissidents brought to the United States after the Persian Gulf War.

But after arriving in California in 1997, the five were jailed for 2 1/2 years by the Immigration and Naturalization Service on suspicion of being double agents for Saddam.

They were eventually released and allowed to settle in Lincoln with their families. But they were not allowed to travel outside their county and had to stay home at night and maintain daily contact with the INS. They also had to get approval for employment and could be deported to a third country with two weeks’ notice.

In Washington, INS spokesman Russ Bergeron said Reno decided last Friday to relax the restrictions.

The men’s lawyer, Niels Frenzen, said that the former officers can now travel anywhere in the United States and do not need INS approval for employment. The deportation provision is still in effect, he said.

A sixth Iraqi man who also worked to overthrow Hussein remains under the previous restrictions in Lincoln, Frenzen said. Reno did not indicate why, he said.

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