Aristide Tells of Kidnapping on Front Page of Washington Post

Aristide Back in Caribbean Heat Before Arriving in Jamaica, Haitian Details 'Coup' by U.S.

By Peter Eisner
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, March 16, 2004; Page A01

KINGSTON, Jamaica, March 15-- ….During the interview, Aristide gave a detailed account of what he alleged was "a coup and a modern day kidnapping" carried out by the United States. U.S. officials have disputed his account, made previously in telephone interviews and through intermediaries. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell has characterized his claims as "absurd." ....

Aristide's version of the events differed markedly from that of U.S. officials.

The ousted president said that he had been conferring with U.S. Ambassador James Foley about ways of avoiding violence and bloodshed in Port-au-Prince on Feb. 28. An armed insurgency led by former members of Haiti's feared military that Aristide had disbanded, and death squad leaders was threatening to attack the capital the following day.

Aristide said Foley agreed that he should go with an American escort to a location where he could appear on television to appeal for calm.

"I wanted to talk to the press, as I did the night before for more than one hour and a half talking to the people through the national TV," Aristide said. "This was my responsibility. And I could do it again and again each time as was necessary."

But he said that by the time Moreno arrived at his residence on the morning on Feb. 29, U.S. troops were surrounding it. Aristide said he felt threatened by the Americans, who told him that "thousands of people including me would be killed."

"I know there were American military and maybe other militaries from other countries. I cannot say only Americans," Aristide said. "But there were a considerable number."

Aristide said he left in a car with the Americans, who said they could provide security. "But instead of moving from where we were at my house" to meet with news media, Aristide said, "we went straight to the plane," which he described as an unmarked white aircraft with an American flag….


Aristide's account was supported by two witnesses present on the evening of Feb. 28 and the morning of Feb. 29. One was Franz Gabriel, a pilot and aide to Aristide; the other was an American security guard. ...

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