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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 26 February, 2003, 15:50 GMT
Briton may sue after FBI bungle
Derek Bond with wife Audrey
Derek Bond was comforted by wife Audrey
A British man freed from a South African police cell after being held for nearly three weeks in an identity mix-up has said he may sue the FBI.

Derek Bond, 72, was held in Durban after being arrested at gunpoint on an Interpol warrant, while on holiday with his wife.

On Wednesday the FBI conceded the Bristol grandfather and Rotarian was not the man they had been seeking.

The real wanted man - fugitive and fraud suspect Derek Sykes - was arrested in Las Vegas on Tuesday evening, and officials said it was a case of identity theft.

Though I protested my innocence from the beginning, this seems to have had very little impact on the FBI
Derek Bond

Speaking after his release, a tearful Mr Bond said he had slept on a concrete floor and had been almost unable to eat.

He said there was "every possibility" he may make a claim for compensation against the FBI.

"I think they owe me a great deal more than an apology. There was very, very little action from the FBI.

'Not humane'

"Nobody took a statement from me until I had been 10 days in the police cells - [that] was the first time that they asked me who I was.

It's not fair what has happened to us and something has to be done
Mr Bond's wife Audrey

"I will need to take advice from my lawyers but there does seem to be a justified claim.

"My criticism of the FBI is extreme. America is meant to be a humane country, but under no circumstances did they behave in a humane way."

However, for now, he said: "All I want to do now is get this whole ordeal over with and be home with my family."

John Lewis from the US Attorney's office in Texas told the BBC: "We got the wrong man, Mr Bond is owed an apology."

Interpol picture of Derek Sykes
The real fugitive: Derek Sykes, who used to call himself Bond
Mr Bond was detained on 6 February on suspicion of being a man wanted in connection with a telemarketing scheme which defrauded people of millions of dollars.

According to the South African police, Mr Bond was arrested because he had the same name and passport number as the man wanted in the US.

The visitor also closely resembled a picture issued of the wanted man.

The FBI later received an anonymous tip-off that the actual wanted man was living in Las Vegas, Nevada - and arrested him.

Mr Lewis said: "He had identification in the name of Robert James Grant but he eventually admitted his name was Derek Lloyd Sykes and he apparently had a British passport in the name of Sykes.

Feb 6: Arrested on arrival in South Africa
Feb 10: Agreed to be extradited to US to clear his name
Feb 14: US authorities discover Mr Bond is claiming mistaken identity
Feb 25: US prosecutor tipped off about "real" Mr Sykes in Las Vegas
Feb 26: Mr Bond released

"The short answer is: it is a case of identity theft.

"As far back as 1989, the person arrested was using the name and the identity of Derek Bond."

Mr Lewis said of the real Mr Bond: "He deserves an apology and he certainly gets one from me. I do apologise and others, I'm sure, will as well."

Mr Lewis said he believed it had taken so long to clear Mr Bond's name because he had waived his right to an identity hearing in South Africa and had agreed to be extradited to the US.

A South African court had ruled Mr Bond could be extradited, but it was put on hold, pending final determination of his identity.

The BBC's Margaret Gilmore
"For three weeks he had protested his innocence"

How the mix-up happened
26 Feb 03 |  England
Profile: Derek Bond
25 Feb 03 |  England
Grandfather 'left to rot'
25 Feb 03 |  England

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