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Issue 493 -- 9th - 15th July 2011
Al-Qaida Suspect Held On Ship Without Legal Advice For Two Months
Somali man who was questioned 'for intelligence purposes' before being read his rights pleads not guilty to terrorist activity
New York, USA, July 9, 2011 – A Somali man suspected of assisting al-Qaida was held on a US navy ship for questioning for more than two months without being advised of any legal rights, an administration official has said.
The man, identified as Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame, was taken to New York on Monday to face charges in a US criminal court.
He appeared in a New York court on Tuesday morning and pleaded not guilty to providing material support to al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (Aqap) and the Somali group al-Shabaab, US prosecutors in Manhattan said.
The US military arrested Warsame in April in the Gulf. He was questioned about terrorism "for intelligence purposes for more than two months" before being read his "Miranda rights", the prosecutors said in a statement.
Miranda rights entitle suspects to a lawyer and to remain silent.
He was questioned by interrogators from the high-value detainee interrogation group and the US military, according to an administration official.
President Barack Obama's administration has come under fire from Republicans and even some fellow Democrats over the decision to prosecute some terrorism suspects in criminal courts and not in military courts, where rules for evidence are looser.
In Washington, another senior administration official said Obama's national security team had unanimously recommended the prosecution of Warsame in a criminal court.
The senior Republican on the homeland security committee, Senator Susan Collins, said she did not agree with this decision.
"A foreign national who fought on behalf of al-Shabaab in Somalia – and who was captured by our military overseas – should be tried in a military commission, not a federal civilian court in New York or anywhere else in our country," she said in a statement.
After Warsame's interrogation, a fresh FBI team came in and was permitted to talk to him, at which time he waived his legal rights and continued to talk for several days, said the first official, who declined to be identified because he was not authorised to talk on the record about matters of terrorism.
Warsame arrived in New York City late on Monday after being formally arrested the previous day, according to a letter from prosecutors to the US court.
Warsame, said to be in his mid-20s, was indicted on nine charges, including providing material support from at least 2007 to April 2011 to Somali militants al-Shabaab and Aqap, two groups designated by Washington as terrorist organizations.
According to the charges, Warsame also worked to broker a weapons deal with Aqap on behalf of al-Shabaab.
A joint statement by the Manhattan US attorney, the FBI and the New York police department said he was also charged with "conspiring to teach and demonstrate the making of explosives, possessing firearms and explosives in furtherance of crimes of violence and other violations".
Source: The Guardian