Libyan terrorism defendant testifies at NY hearing
NEW YORK (AP) — A Libyan man facing charges in the 1998 deadly bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa said Wednesday he thought he had no choice but to sign papers saying he was voluntarily speaking to investigators when he was flown to the United States last year.
Abu Anas al-Libi testified at a hearing to determine whether his statements can be used as evidence at his November trial on charges he conspired in the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa that killed 224 people, including a dozen Americans.
Al-Libi has asked U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan to suppress statements he made on his plane ride to America a week after he was snatched off the streets of the Libyan capital, Tripoli, in October 2013. He said the statements were coerced because he felt he had to answer questions after he was abused physically and psychologically by people he thought were CIA agents on the USS San Antonio in the Mediterranean for a week.
His attorney, Bernard Kleinman, asked him why he signed a form acknowledging his rights as he spoke to investigators during the seven-hour flight.
“The way the same method all the investigators use, you have no choice but to sign it,” al-Libi said, speaking through an Arabic interpreter.
His lawyer asked if his treatment by U.S. investigators was the same as the treatment he received from Libyan authorities when he was questioned by them.
“The same method, but here at least they have the dignity not to hit me and extend their hand against me,” he said.
Al-Libi said he told anyone who inquired about his health aboard the U.S. plane that he was on a hunger strike.
George Corey, an investigator with the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan, testified before al-Libi took the stand that al-Libi had told him he was on a hunger strike. Corey said he asked the defendant about his health.
“He said he was tired and he was upset with the way he was captured,” Corey said.
The investigator said he told al-Libi that he was under arrest and that he had no interest in any previous statements he made and was not aware of them.
In a written declaration submitted to the court in September, al-Libi said he was told during his interrogation on the ship that his questioning would last about four months.
“I was certain that, if lucky, I would end up at Guantanamo Bay, but more likely at a CIA torture prison,” he wrote.
Corey testified that al-Libi asked him and FBI Agent Philip Swabsin if he was being taken to a military court or a criminal court.
“We told him that we were taking him to New York and to a criminal court,” he said.
Al-Libi was questioned for several hours aboard the plane, but was not questioned at a hospital where he was taken when the plane landed. Within a day, he had requested a lawyer and the questioning ceased.