Pakistani Court: Produce Al-Qaida Suspects
LAHORE, Pakistan (AP) _ A Pakistani judge Friday ordered authorities to present three al-Qaida suspects _ two U.S. citizens and a Canadian _ in court next week, saying prosecutors must justify their detention.
The three men were arrested along with six other suspects, including another American and another Canadian, earlier this month; four Pakistanis were later released.
Judge Javed Buttar ordered the three men appear in the Lahore High Court on Tuesday.
He made the ruling following a motion by the lawyer for the two naturalized American citizens, Umer Karar Khawaja and Khyzer Ali Khawaja, and a Canadian, Usman Khawaja.
Their defense teams are trying to prevent the men’s extradition abroad, officials said.
The three are family members of Dr. Javed Ahmad, also arrested on suspicions of having al-Qaida links.
About 200 supporters of Jamaat-e-Islami _ the oldest and best-organized Islamic party in Pakistan _ held a protest in Lahore on Friday to demand the release of Ahmad and his relatives.
``We are concerned over the increasing involvement of the FBI in Pakistan,″ Liaqat Baluch, a Jamaat-e-Islami leader, said.
Hamid Khan, the lawyer for the three men, told the court Friday his clients were being held illegally and authorities had not given him access to them.
Prosecutors told the court the three men were in the custody of a Pakistani security agency, and were not being held by the American FBI. There have been daily demonstrations in Pakistan over the alleged involvement of the FBI in the arrest of Ahmad and his family members.
American troops have been combing Afghanistan for any trace of Osama bin Laden and ousted Taliban leaders, many of whom are now reported to be in Pakistan.
Pakistan is a key ally of the U.S.-led coalition forces in the war against terrorism.