Kyrgyzstan Arrests U.S. Air Base Worker

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan -- Kyrgyz police on Friday arrested an American who works at the U.S. air base near Bishkek on suspicion of setting fire to his rented apartment, his lawyer said.

Max Chounlamany, 25, a civil employee at the U.S. Manas military air base, denies any wrongdoing, lawyer Nina Zotova said.

"I don't know why they arrested him," she said. "If the court proves he is guilty, he is ready to pay for repairs."

The owner of the apartment is seeking $50,000 in damages, Zotova said.

A spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Bishkek said it was monitoring the case.

Washington established its military air base in Kyrgyzstan in 2001 to support operations in nearby Afghanistan. The former Soviet republic also hosts a Russian military air base.

Kyrgyz people have had mixed feelings about U.S. troops in their homeland since 2006, when a U.S. airman shot dead a Kyrgyz man at the base.