NIAMEY (Reuters) - A Malian man wanted by the United States for killing a U.S. diplomat in Niger in 2000 and convicted for a deadly attack on Saudi tourists there in 2009, has been arrested by French forces in northern Mali, Niger said on Thursday.
Alhassane Ould Mohamed, 42, also known as “Cheibani”, was among 22 prisoners, several of them Islamist militants, who escaped from a prison in Niger’s capital in June.
He was serving a 20-year sentence for his involvement in the killing of four Saudis who were on a hunting safari in December 2009.
“I can confirm the arrest on Tuesday of Alhassane Ould Mohamed. He was arrested by French security forces,” Marou Amadou, Niger’s justice minister and government spokesman, told a news conference in Niamey.
Amadou said Mohamed, a Malian Tuareg, was captured in a hideout between the northern Mali towns of Gao and Kidal, following a tip off from Niger security officials.
He declined to say whether Mohamed would be extradited. French and Malian officials were not immediately available for comment.
U.S. federal prosecutors unsealed an indictment against Mohamed in September. He was charged with the killing of William Bultemeier, a U.S. Defence Department official, in December 2000. Prosecutors offered $20,000 for information leading to his capture.
According to a leaked 2010 U.S. diplomatic cable from the embassy in Mali, Mohamed was also linked to the kidnapping of four Western tourists near the Mali-Niger border in January 2009.
Reporting by Abdoulaye Massalatchi; Writing by Bate Felix; Editing by David Lewis and Robin Pomeroy