An aide to Afghan President Hamid Karzai who is under investigation for corruption is on the payroll of the Central Intelligence Agency, The New York Times reported on Wednesday.
Citing unnamed Afghan and US officials, the newspaper said Mohammed Zia Salehi, the chief of administration for Afghanistan’s National Security Council, had been receiving money from the US intelligence service for years.
The revelation raised new questions about how the United States can root out corruption in the Afghan government when US operations in the country require support from some of the same politicians and leaders accused of graft.
Salehi was arrested in July after Afghan police said a wiretap caught him soliciting a bribe in exchange for holding up a US investigation into a company suspected of moving money for Afghan leaders, drug traffickers and insurgents.
He was released after just seven hours in prison, after Karzai intervened on his behalf.
The Times said the CIA was not believed to have played a role in his release, and that Karzai’s intervention was likely motivated by his fear of what Salehi might reveal about the government’s inner workings.
The daily said it was unclear what role Salehi was playing for the CIA, whether information-gathering or seeking to advance US interests inside the government.