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Padilla Pleads Not Guilty in Miami

The suspect, accused of ties to terrorists, is denied bail. His trial is to start in September.

January 13, 2006|From Associated Press

MIAMI — Jose Padilla, a U.S. citizen who was held for about 3 1/2 years as an "enemy combatant," pleaded not guilty Thursday to criminal charges alleging he was part of a secret network that supported Muslim terrorists.

The plea, followed by a judge's denial of bail for Padilla, came a week after he was transferred from military to civilian custody. His trial was set for early September.

"Absolutely not guilty," said Michael Caruso, one of Padilla's lawyers. Padilla did not speak during the hearing, other than to confirm the pronunciation of his name (puh-DILL-uh).

Prosecutors had asked U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry L. Garber to deny bail, saying that Padilla would probably flee and that the charges -- including allegations that he attended an Al Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan -- made him dangerous.

"How much more dangerous can someone be than someone who attended a terrorist training camp?" prosecutor Stephanie Pell said.

Padilla, 35, was arrested at Chicago's O'Hare airport in May 2002 and held at a military brig without criminal charges, initially on suspicion of plotting to detonate a radioactive "dirty bomb" inside the U.S.

His case raised questions about whether U.S. citizens detained on American soil could be held without trial in the war on terrorism.

Before the U.S. Supreme Court could decide whether to take up Padilla's case, the federal government presented it to a civilian grand jury, which indicted him in November. Last week, the high court approved Padilla's transfer to civilian custody in Miami, overruling a lower court that suggested the administration changed tactics to avert a Supreme Court ruling.

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