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U.S. Ties Moussaoui Case to Al Qaeda Conspiracy

June 13, 2003|From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The government's case against terrorism suspect Zacarias Moussaoui is based on Al Qaeda's wide-ranging conspiracy to kill Americans, not solely on the Sept. 11 attacks, a prosecutor said in legal arguments released Thursday.

Arguing against allowing Moussaoui to interview a senior Al Qaeda prisoner, prosecutor Michael Chertoff contended that under the government's broad indictment, the defendant would have little to gain from the captive should he be allowed to testify.

The U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., released the edited transcript of a closed hearing June 3, which followed a public proceeding. The three-judge panel was hearing the government's appeal of a trial judge's order allowing Moussaoui to question alleged Sept. 11 organizer Ramzi Binalshibh through a remote video hookup.

U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema had allowed the deposition after concluding that Binalshibh might have information that could aid Moussaoui's defense. The government said national security would be irreparably harmed if its interrogation of Binalshibh in an undisclosed overseas location was interrupted.

A court-appointed lawyer for Moussaoui, Edward MacMahon, argued that Binalshibh would help Moussaoui, who has been granted the right to represent himself at trial.

"We have reasonable indications ... as to what the witness might say, and what we want to do is to call the witness," MacMahon said.

There is no likelihood that the government would bring Binalshibh to the U.S. for trial, but he could testify on videotape or by a remote hookup.

Moussaoui is the lone U.S. defendant charged as a conspirator with the 19 Sept. 11 hijackers.

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