KARACHI, Pakistan — A Pakistani judge Monday dismissed the case against an American FBI agent arrested over ammunition found in his luggage, a police officer said, defusing a case that had threatened to heighten tensions between the U.S. and Pakistan.
The judge dismissed the case after police produced a letter from the Ministry of Interior attesting that the agent was allowed to carry a weapon while in Pakistan and therefore any ammunition was legal, said the lead investigator in the case, Khalid Mahmood.
The judge also cited in his decision to dismiss the case the small number of bullets found, and said the police had arrested him under the wrong statute, said the agent's lawyer Zahid Jamil.
The agent, identified as Joel Cox, was detained May 5 after officials found ammunition in his luggage as he was preparing to board a flight to Islamabad.
The arrest had the potential to strain relations between the uneasy allies as have previous incidents involving American officials arrested or detained in Pakistan.
The most controversial incident came in January 2011 when CIA contractor Raymond Davis shot and killed two Pakistani men in Lahore. He said the two men were trying to rob him and he was acting in self-defense. That case, which played out over seven weeks in high-profile stories in the Pakistani media, severely tested relations between the two countries.
Davis was eventually released after the men's families agreed to accept more than $2 million in compensation.
But the case of the American FBI agent arrested in Karachi never reached that level of animosity. He was granted bail on May 8.
He was in Pakistan as part of a multi-agency, anti-corruption program and apparently did not realize that he had bullets in his bag, said an American law enforcement official.
Another U.S. law enforcement official familiar with the case said he was from the bureau's Miami field office. Both U.S. officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the case.