May 20, 2010 / 11:57 PM / 7 years ago

Lag in Times Square suspect's court date defended

* Accused Times Square bomber waived legal rights daily

* Prosecutors say "uninterrupted access" needed to Shahzad

By Basil Katz

NEW YORK, May 20 (Reuters) - U.S. investigators needed "uninterrupted access" to the suspected Times Square bomber in the two weeks between his arrest and court appearance, prosecutors said on Thursday, seeking to explain the delay in bringing him before a judge sooner.

Faisal Shahzad voluntarily waived his legal rights -- which include access to a lawyer, remaining silent and a court appearance within 48 hours of arrest -- every day, federal prosecutors said in a May 12 letter released on Thursday.

"Uninterrupted access to the defendant has been, and continues to be, critical to this process... to promptly verify with him the accuracy of information developed in the investigation," prosecutors said.

Shahzad, 30, appeared in court on Tuesday for the first time since his May 3 arrest to face five felony charges, including attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and trying to kill and maim people. He faces life in prison if convicted.

The Pakistani-American is accused of parking a vehicle containing a crude bomb in New York's Times Square on May 1, which failed to detonate. He was arrested aboard a Dubai-bound jetliner two days later and at his court appearance on Tuesday was remanded in custody.

Law enforcement officials said Shahzad also had plans to target other New York locations including Rockefeller Center and Grand Central terminal.

After the failed Times Square attack and the arrest of a Nigerian man accused of trying to bomb a Detroit-bound plane in December, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has opened the door to limiting the legal rights of terrorism suspects.

Republicans and even some of President Barack Obama's fellow Democrats have condemned giving so-called Miranda rights to terrorism suspects, saying it makes it harder to get vital intelligence.

Prosecutors said that Shahzad had "without counsel, knowingly and voluntarily waived his Miranda rights and executed a written waiver of speedy presentment" on each day since his arrest.

U.S law enforcement officials were pursuing leads provided by Shahzad, the prosecutors said in the letter, parts of which are blacked out. (Additional reporting by Jeremy Pelofsky; Editing by Michelle Nichols and Cynthia Osterman)

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