Lawyer for accused al Qaeda figure says case will take months to prepare
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The defense attorney for an alleged senior al Qaeda figure captured in Libya earlier this month said on Tuesday it will take several months to sort through hundreds of thousands of documents before the case can proceed.
Bernard Kleinman said in federal court that he had just begun representing Libyan Nazih al-Ragye, better known as Abu Anas al-Liby, who last week pleaded not guilty to involvement in the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 224 people.
Al-Liby was seized by a U.S. Army Delta Force squad in Tripoli on October 5, put on board a Navy ship in the Mediterranean Sea, flown to the United States and handed over to civilian law enforcement.
A criminal indictment was filed in 2001 against him and others suspected in the bombings.
Al-Liby's defense attorney told U.S. District Court Judge Lewis Kaplan in court on Tuesday that he would need at least six months to sort through some 270,000 documents that are part of the evidence in the case.
Kleinman also requested the return of his client's personal copy of the Koran, the Islamic holy book, which he said was confiscated during his capture.
Kleinman said he met al-Liby for the first time earlier on Tuesday. Asked by reporters outside court who had retained him, Kleinman said only that it was a third party, without providing details.
Citing experience with terrorism cases, Kleinman told the judge he represents at least one prisoner held by the United States at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Al-Liby's next court appearance was set for December 12.
U.S. officials say al-Liby served as a liaison between militant groups in Libya and North Africa and Ayman al-Zawahiri, the Egyptian physician who now leads what remains of al Qaeda's core organization based in Pakistan.
Al-Liby was put on the Navy ship for interrogation but then brought to the United States when his health began to deteriorate after he stopped eating and drinking, a U.S. official said.
His wife has said in media interviews that he suffers from Hepatitis C.
(Reporting by Luke Swiderski; Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Gunna Dickson)