Terror trial defendant seeks statement suppression
NEW YORK (AP) — A Libyan man facing trial in the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa says his statements to the FBI should be kept from his trial next month because they were coerced from him after he was abused physically and psychologically aboard a U.S. ship for a week.
A written declaration signed by Abu Anas al-Libi last month was publicly filed Tuesday. In it, he said he was falsely charged in the bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, which killed 224 people, including a dozen Americans.
Al-Libi, who was snatched off the streets of Tripoli a year ago, said he was convinced that torture at a CIA-run site awaited him after spending his first night in custody on a hard floor, handcuffed and in leg irons, with ear muffs and a blindfold on his head.
“I felt I would never see my family ever again,” he said. “I lived in morbid fear of my imminent death where its only precursor would be torture.”
Al-Libi said he was taken to the U.S.S. San Antonio in the Mediterranean, where he was subjected to daily interrogation by CIA agents who warned him that the questioning would be the “easiest step” of three.
“I took this to mean that the physical and psychological torture would only increase if I failed to cooperate with my questioners,” said al-Libi, who also is known as Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai. “These threats continued the entire time I was on board the ship.”
Al-Libi, a 50-year-old Libyan citizen once on the FBI’s list of most wanted terrorists, said he was kept in a lighted windowless room with no bed or chair when he was not being interrogated until he was flown to America on a plane with FBI agents and an interpreter.
“After having been subjected to the treatment above, and being confused and disoriented, with no understanding of where I was, or what would happen to me, I gave the statement the FBI has,” he wrote. “I felt the only way to be treated fairly and humanely was if I did what I was told.”
He said he felt betrayed by the United States after he “joined with forces of NATO and the United States” to help replace former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi in 2010 and 2011, hoping to establish a “stable Islamic secular state” in Libya.
The government in court papers said al-Libi’s arguments were meritless because his rights were properly explained to him before he spoke.
“The defendant does not make a single specific factual allegation that the law enforcement agents took any steps to coerce him into waiving his Miranda rights,” prosecutors said. “He does not allege that anyone shouted at or threatened him. He does not allege that anyone injured him or that any weapons were displayed. He does not allege that he was fearful of the law enforcement officers who advised him of his Miranda rights.”
Al-Libi has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy charges in the embassy bombings case. The defense court filing included a heavily redacted version of his statements, in which he said he was tired and needed rest.