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US Worker Freed From Taliban Jail

July 12, 2000

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) _ An American aid worker arrested four days ago by the ruling Taliban was released Wednesday, and ordered to leave Afghanistan within 24 hours, United Nations and Afghan officials said.

Mary Mackmakin said she was treated well at the juvenile detention center where she had been held since last Sunday.

``I am happy to be here. ... I am just waiting for my staff to say goodbye,″ said Mackmakin, who is in her late 60s.

Eric de Mul, the U.N. coordinator for Afghanistan who is based in neighboring Pakistan, said Mackmakin was freed along with her Afghan female employees, who were also arrested last Sunday.

The women, who were in good health, were held in a juvenile detention center in the heart of the Afghan city. Although the Taliban had earlier said Mackmakin could leave, the American woman refused to go until her employees were freed.

The Taliban also revoked Mackmakin’s visa and ordered her to leave the country, a Taliban Foreign Ministry official said.

Mackmakin was accused of spying and trying to convert Muslims to Christianity.

Mackmakin has been in Afghanistan since the early 1990s operating Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation Support for Afghanistan, based out of Bisbee, Ariz. Her organization provided home-based work for Afghan women, particularly widows.

De Mul said the United Nations will investigate Mackmakin’s expulsion and see if it can be reversed.

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