Security Guards Under Investigation Leaving Afghanistan


KABUL, Afghanistan (CNN) -- Fourteen employees of a U.S. security contractor accused of wrongdoing at the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan have been fired and were leaving the country, the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq said Friday.

Allegations surfaced last week that contractor ArmorGroup North America allowed mistreatment, sexual activity and intimidation within the ranks of private guards hired to protect the embassy in Kabul. The company and U.S. officials are investigating.

"We've immediately taken several actions," said Ambassador Karl Eikenberry. "First of all, 13 of the employees of ArmorGroup have been terminated from their contracts. That's a combination of some management and any of the individuals that were involved in this very disgusting behavior that occurred."

After Eikenberry spoke with CNN, another ArmorGroup employee was fired.

The U.S. Embassy in Kabul initially said that eight of the guards under investigation were fired and two resigned, but Eikenberry corrected that information.

In addition, the entire senior management team of ArmorGroup North America in Kabul was to be replaced immediately, the embassy said.

The embassy's security office is continuing interviews of all ArmorGroup guards and a team from the State Department's inspector general's office has arrived in Kabul and begun an investigation, the release said.

The allegations came to light last week when the watchdog group Project on Government Oversight sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and briefed reporters on its findings, which it said were based on e-mails and interviews with more than a dozen guards who have worked at the U.S. compound in Kabul.

ArmorGroup has a security contract with the State Department to provide services through July 2010.

Wackenhut Services Inc., the corporate parent of ArmorGroup, said in an e-mail it is "fully cooperating" in the investigation.

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