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Former Electricity Minister of Iraq Flees Country

Iraq's former electricity minister, Aiham Alsammarae, fled to the United States after escaping a Baghdad police station where he was being held under charges of corruption. Alsammarae describes the charges, which he says were politically motivated, and the jailbreak.

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  • RAY SUAREZ:

    Now, the story of an escape from an Iraqi prison. NewsHour correspondent Elizabeth Brackett of WTTW-Chicago reports.

  • ELIZABETH BRACKETT, NewsHour Correspondent:

    Aiham Alsammarae walked through the crowds at O'Hare Airport's international terminal this week, tired after a 13-hour flight from Amman, Jordan.

    Last month, Alsammarae, the former minister of electricity in Iraq, escaped from an Iraqi police station in Baghdad's Green Zone, where he had been held for nearly six months after being convicted of corruption, a charge he says was politically motivated.

    AIHAM ALSAMMARAE, Former Minister of Electricity, Iraq: When I came back to see my home and see my family and realize that I am coming back to life again, really, this is like when they say this is my sweet home.

  • ELIZABETH BRACKETT:

    Iraqi-born, Alsammarae came to Chicago in 1976 to get his PhD in engineering. In 1979, he learned Saddam Hussein had executed three members of his family. So he stayed in the U.S., became a citizen, and built a successful electrical engineering company.

    But he remained committed to overthrowing Hussein, as he told me in this prewar 2002 interview.

  • AIHAM ALSAMMARAE:

    If it doesn't have a regime change, we will never have a democracy in Iraq. Saddam Hussein believe in one thing, is control everything in his hands.

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