NEW YORK (AP) – An Egyptian lawyer’s statements under questioning by British authorities about the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa will be allowed as evidence at a U.S. trial that could include a co-defendant who was captured this month in Libya, a judge ruled Wednesday.
U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan rejected arguments that alleged al-Qaida operative Adel Abdel Bary was under duress when British detectives interrogated him at a London police station in September 1998. Kaplan also is considering a request to put Abdel Bary on trial with Abu Anas al-Libi, who was snatched off the streets of Tripoli and brought to the New York to face terrorism charges in the embassy bombing case.
Abdel Bary and another defendant, Khaled al-Fawwaz, were extradited from Great Britain to New York last year. Prosecutors allege Abdel Bary coordinated communications among al-Qaida and spread word of Osama bin Laden’s fatwahs.
Lawyers for Abdel Bary had argued that unspecified statements should be kept out the case because he was questioned against his will and never read the U.S. Miranda warning about his right to remain silent.
In a decision filed in federal court in Manhattan, Kaplan found that the questioning wasn’t the result of a joint operation with U.S. authorities, so Miranda didn’t apply. He also noted that Abdel had a lawyer in the room, was told he didn’t have to answer and should have understood his rights better than most people because he had practiced law in Egypt.
Abdel Bary “is a well-educated and intelligent individual,” Kaplan wrote. The judge added: “The conditions of Mr. Abdel Bary’s interrogation were acceptable and not coercive.”
The motion to suppress the statements also claimed that the U.S. indictment had infringed on Abdel Bary’s religious freedoms by calling him a follower of an extremist version of Islam. The government, it said, “does not have the right to decide what forms of religion are `normal’ and `extreme'” _ an argument that the judge called unpersuasive.
An attorney for Abdel Bary declined to comment Wednesday.
Abdel Bary, al-Fawwaz and al-Libi, also known as Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai, all have pleaded not guilty to conspiracy charges in the twin 1998 bombings at the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 224 people, including a dozen Americans. A trial is not expected until late next year.
The prosecution in the United States is in keeping with a disputed policy of bringing suspected al-Qaida sympathizers and operatives to civilian courts rather than military tribunals. Several Republicans in Congress had demanded that al-Libi be sent to Guantanamo for indefinite interrogation.
New York juries have convicted five others in the embassy attacks.
Associated Press writer Larry Neumeister contributed to this report.
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