BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A suspected Hezbollah militant accused of masterminding the killing of Americans in Iraq has been cleared of all charges and will be freed, his lawyer said on Monday, in an announcement that is likely to anger Washington.
Ali Mussa Daqduq was accused of training Iraqi militants and orchestrating a 2007 kidnapping attack that killed five U.S. troops.
“The Iraqi judiciary decided to dismiss all the charges against him and release him without any conditions because there was a lack of evidence,” his lawyer Abdulalmehdi al-Mutiri said by telephone.
Daqduq’s case became a source of tension between Baghdad and Washington in the run-up to the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq in December.
U.S. government officials originally sought to keep Daqduq in custody, saying they feared Iraqi authorities would be unable to hold him for long or convict him.
The U.S. officials said they eventually agreed to hand him over to the Iraqi authorities after receiving assurances Daqduq would be tried for his crimes.
The U.S. embassy in Baghdad did not immediately respond to requests for a reaction on Monday.
Daqduq’s lawyer said the Iraqi government would decide whether he would be sent back to his native Lebanon after his release or handed over to his embassy in Baghdad.
Reporting by Suadad al-Salhy; Writing by Patrick Markey; Editing by Andrew Heavens