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Pakistan Court Told of ‘Anti-State’ Moves

December 31, 2002

LAHORE, Pakistan (AP) _ A Pakistani court was told Tuesday that five men, three Americans and two Canadians, were involved in ``anti-state″ activities on behalf of a foreign country or organization _ an apparent reference to the al-Qaida terror network.

The court in Lahore ordered the men’s lawyers to reply to the accusation at a hearing scheduled for Friday.

The men were arrested on Dec. 19. The most prominent of the five was Dr. Javed Ahmad, a physician with alleged ties to al-Qaida. Ahmad is a naturalized American, as are his two sons, Umer Karar Khawaja and Khyzer Ali Khawaja, all of whom are in jail. Ahmad’s brother Naveed Khawaja and his nephew Usman Khawaja, who are being detained on similar accusations, are naturalized Canadians.

About a dozen family members met with Ahmad’s two sons and his nephew on Tuesday at the Lahore chief of police’s office, said their lawyer, Pervez Inayat Malik. It was the first time the family had gotten a chance to see the accused since their arrest, he said.

``They looked tired. They were questioned extensively,″ Malik said, adding that the men were being questioned by American agents. When asked if the accused were asked about alleged links to al-Qaida, Malik said: ``You know well what the FBI people could ask them.

Malik said the men said they were not subject to torture or physical abuse, but complained of psychological trauma.

Police prevented reporters from getting near the relatives after the meeting, which the court had ordered arranged earlier in the day. The court also was told of government suspicions about the men.

``The federal government is satisfied that you have been involved in anti-state activities in Pakistan on behalf of a foreign country or organization,″ said Punjab provincial Advocate General Maqbool Elahi Malik, in the court.

When they were arrested, authorities said they believed the men had links with al-Qaida.

``Thus your activities have been prejudicial to the security of Pakistan,″ said Malik, reading from a statement that also said the men were ordered to be immediately detained in any jail in Punjab province.

However, judge Bashir Mujahed said he wanted to hear from lawyers for the five men, who were not in court.

Under Pakistani law, suspected terrorists can be held for up to one year without being charged. The government is required to report regularly to the court on their condition and whereabouts.

Malik said that the government also is invoking the 1952 Security Act of Pakistan to hold the men.

Ahmad and his relatives were arrested in a raid that was reportedly jointly carried out by Pakistani authorities and the FBI.

Their arrest and the involvement of the FBI in the raid has sparked protests throughout Pakistan.

Ahmad is the second physician to be arrested in Pakistan for alleged links to al-Qaida. Dr. Amer Aziz was arrested and questioned in October about his frequent trips to Afghanistan and his treatment of Taliban and al-Qaida fighters and leaders. He was released about a month later.

Update hourly