Last updated: 16 April, 2014

Libyan Al-Qaeda suspect deprived rights in US jail

The Libyan Al-Qaeda suspect captured last year outside his home in Tripoli is being deprived legal documents and personal effects in a US prison hospital, his lawyer said Wednesday.

Anas al-Libi, 50, has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy charges over the 1998 Al-Qaeda bombings of US embassies in East Africa that killed 244 people and wounded more than 5,000 others.

He was detained by US commandos in the Libyan capital in October and brought to New York, where he was indicted in 2000 to face trial after being interrogated on board a US warship.

Libi, who suffers from hepatitis C, was transferred on March 28 to a federal medical center in North Carolina, a 900-mile (1,450-kilometer) round trip for his New York-based lawyer Bernard Kleinman.

Kleinman told a pre-trial conference on Wednesday that when he visited his client last week, Libi had no legal materials and none of his personal items with him.

The only document in his possession is a Koran that he was given in hospital and not his personal, annotated copy confiscated after his capture, Kleinman said.

Judge Lewis Kaplan ordered US prosecutors to make sure “right now” that Libi, whose real name is Nazih Abdul Hamed al-Raghie, had access to legal materials.

Kleinman also complained that his client had not been allowed to take a shower, nor been given clean underwear and clothing for the first 10 days of his time at the prison hospital.

When he had asked for a shower, an officer told him to use the sink and sponge himself down, Kleinman said.

Kleinman said he had been unable to secure the services of an Arabic interpreter in North Carolina and that a prison officer had cut short his visit after three hours.

A spokeswoman for the Federal Bureau of Prisons declined to comment when asked by AFP for a reaction to the allegations.

Evidence he needs to access to prepare Libi’s defense is also in Libya, where insecurity had precluded a visit, Kleinman said.

The Jordanian ambassador to Libya was kidnapped on Tuesday and two days earlier, the Libyan prime minister resigned, saying he and his family had been the victims of an armed attack.

– Trial delay sought –

Kleinman asked the judge to delay the November 3 trial, allowing him more time to prepare the defense, but Kaplan was unmoved.

Kaplan said there were no guarantees that security would improve if he put back the trial by 90 days.

“For now the date stands,” Kaplan told the court, although he indicated he could still decide to postpone until August.

The court later met privately to discuss Libi’s health after Kleinman argued for his client’s privacy to be protected.

He is to be tried jointly with two other suspects indicted on the same charges — Khalid al-Fawwaz and Adel Abdel Bary — given overlapping evidence and witnesses.

Libi pleaded not guilty on October 15 to charges that he conspired to murder, kidnap, maim, kill, destroy property and attack US defense buildings.

The charges do not carry the death penalty.

The computer expert had been on the FBI’s most wanted list with a $5 million bounty on his head.