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E-mail from consul confirms Berg was in U.S. military hands
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WEST CHESTER, Pa. (AP) - A U.S. diplomatic official in Iraq told the family of slain American Nicholas Berg in early April that he was being detained by the U.S. military, according to e-mails provided by the family Thursday.

U.S. government officials have said Berg, who was found dead last weekend in Baghdad, was detained by Iraqi police March 24 and was never in the custody of American forces.

He is believed to have been kidnapped within days of his April 6 release by either Iraqi police or coalition forces, and later beheaded by militants who videotaped the slaying.

To back its claims that Berg was in U.S. custody, the family showed The Associated Press an April 1 e-mail from Beth A. Payne, the U.S. consular officer in Iraq.

"I have confirmed that your son, Nick, is being detained by the U.S. military in Mosul. He is safe. He was picked up approximately one week ago. We will try to obtain additional information regarding his detention and a contact person you can communicate with directly," the e-mail said.

In two e-mails later that day, Payne wrote that she was still trying to find a local contact for the family.

Berg's brother, David Berg, called on the government to come clean about its contacts with the slain American before he died. The family has blamed the government for keeping him in custody for too long while anti-American violence escalated in Iraq.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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