Tuesday, June 06, 2006
MIAMI - A lawyer for an alleged Al Qaeda operative, Jose Padilla, is asking a judge to throw out key evidence, saying the warrant for his arrest was based on statements from one source who claims he was tortured and another who was heavily medicated.
The statements were cited in an FBI affidavit "that distorted the facts in an apparent disregard for the truth," the attorney, Andrew Patel, said in court papers filed late last week.
Padilla was arrested in 2002 at Chicago's O'Hare Airport. Initially accused of plotting to detonate a radioactive "dirty bomb" in a major American city, Padilla was designated an enemy combatant and held without charge by the military for 3 1/2 years.
President Bush dropped the combatant label in November and Padilla was indicted in Miami along with four others on charges of being part of a support cell for Islamic extremists. Padilla's trial is set for this fall.
The evidence being challenged includes a cell phone allegedly provided to Padilla by another Al Qaeda operative, an address book containing names of his alleged Al Qaeda recruiter and sponsor, and more than $10,000 in cash.
In court papers, Mr. Patel does not accuse the FBI or other American interrogators of engaging in torture. But he argued that American failure to detail the torture allegations before Padilla's arrest invalidate the evidence seized from him.
A spokesman for U.S. Attorney Alexander Acosta had no comment yesterday.
According to Mr. Patel, the sources cited in the FBI affidavit were Binyam Ahmed Muhammad - being held at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp - and Abu Zubayda, a top Al Qaeda leader held at an undisclosed location. They were arrested in Pakistan in 2002.
Mr. Patel said Mr. Muhammad has told his own lawyer that he was whipped, hung from the ceiling of his cell with leather straps, and later taken to Morocco where he was tortured with a razor.
Mr. Patel said Mr. Zubayda was treated after his arrest for gunshot wounds, raising questions about "the effect the medications may have had on Abu Zubayda's ability to provide accurate information."