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Refugee's story begins to unravel

WASHINGTON -- An Iraqi woman's story of being tortured in prison during the rule of Saddam Hussein, which led the United States to grant her refugee status, appears to include false claims.

Jumana Michael Hanna, in a July 21, 2003, Washington Post article, said she was beaten and raped during more than two years of imprisonment for marrying a foreign national without proper permission. She also said her husband had been executed under Hussein's reign.

But an article in this month's Esquire, by a writer who pursued writing a book with Hanna, concludes she was not truthful.

The Post reported Thursday that it has since interviewed three of Hanna's in-laws who said she was imprisoned for another reason -- cheating people out of money -- and that her husband was alive and living outside Iraq.

Ten days after the Post featured Hanna on its front page, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz told her story at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing to illustrate torture and abuse of prisoners by Baathist policemen.

US officials took Hanna and her children into protective custody in Baghdad and then on to the United States, based on her story. She now lives in Chicago.

Asked by the Post about its findings, Hanna said, ''You write what you like. I have nothing else to say." The Post said it located a brother, uncle, and cousin of Hanna's husband, who said they believed Hanna was imprisoned for cheating people with false promises that she could get them visas.

From today's globe:
 22 killed in Iraq bombings (Boston Globe)
 DETAINEE TREATMENT: British major says he saw no abuse (Boston Globe)
 Danish soldiers are charged (Boston Globe)
 A LEADER UNDER FIRE: Iraq says Chalabi faces arrest soon (Boston Globe)
 TORTURE ALLEGATIONS: Refugee's story begins to unravel (Boston Globe)
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