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Last Updated:  Monday, 10 March, 2003, 15:46 GMT
FBI mix-up Briton refuses apology
Derek Bond
Mr Bond is said to still be traumatised by his experience
The British tourist wrongly detained for three weeks in South Africa has turned down an apology from the US Ambassador to the UK.

Derek Bond, 72, was seized by police after Interpol issued a warrant for his arrest at the behest of the FBI.

The American authorities wrongly believed he was a man wanted in connection with a $5m telemarketing scam.

But Mr Bond, who says his experience has left him traumatised, is considering suing the FBI for the mistake and said the apology was not good enough.

"I have had an apology from the United States Ambassador in London which came by personal courier," he said.

Holiday invitation

"But when I opened and read it, I didn't feel I could accept it - the ambassador at this stage cannot possibly know what he's apologising for.

"If he had read the file and the FBI file in great detail, then I think he would realise he needs to make a much stronger overture to me than a mere apology."

Mr Bond has accepted an invitation from the KwaZulu-Natal province's Tourism Authority to return to South Africa on a free holiday.

"The offer was made to me in South Africa but it was too early to make a decision then.

"Florally, their spring is supposed to be beautiful so that's when we plan to go. That's October, when we should feel relaxed enough."

Anonymous call

At the time of his release, the Bristol pensioner received a call from President Thabo Mbeki inviting him for tea if he should ever return to the country.

The fact Mr Bond was not "Derek Sykes", the man behind a telemarketing sting, was only acknowledged by the FBI when an anonymous tip-off gave the whereabouts of the real Mr Sykes in Las Vegas.

They blamed an elaborate "identity theft", carried out as early as the 1980s, for the mix-up.

Only then - three weeks after his arrest - did the FBI contact colleagues in South Africa and ask them to free Mr Bond.

The real Mr Sykes has been charged with one count of conspiracy, four counts of "wire fraud" and 17 counts of transporting stolen property.

The BBC's Nicola Pearson
"Mr Bond remains angry with the FBI"

Free holiday for detained Briton
08 Mar 03 |  England
Briton 'may sue' over FBI ordeal
28 Feb 03 |  England
Pensioner freed after FBI bungle
26 Feb 03 |  England
How the mix-up happened
26 Feb 03 |  England

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