Virginia man says saudis extracted confession through torture
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Va. Man Pleads Innocent to Terror Plot
Va. Man Accused of Joining al-Qaida, Plotting Against Bush Pleads Innocent to Terror Charges
By MATTHEW BARAKAT
The Associated Press
Mar. 14, 2005 - A Virginia man accused of joining al-Qaida and plotting to assassinate President Bush wants a doctor to examine scars on his back to corroborate claims that Saudi officials extracted a confession through torture.
The lawyer for Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, 23, filed a motion Monday seeking "immediate access to medical, psychological and forensic experts to examine and evaluate" Abu Ali for evidence of torture.
The motion was filed at Abu Ali's arraignment in federal court, where he pleaded innocent to providing material support to terrorists and other charges. If convicted, he could be sentenced to up to 80 years in prison.
Abu Ali, a U.S. citizen who was valedictorian of his high school class at an Islamic private school in northern Virginia, is accused of joined al-Qaida while studying overseas in Saudi Arabia. Prosecutors say he discussed numerous terrorist acts with other al-Qaida members, including a plan in which he would either shoot President Bush or detonate a car bomb.
Other discussions included a Sept. 11-style attack in which airplanes would be hijacked from the United Kingdom or Australia and flown to targets in the United States.
An FBI agent testified at a previous hearing that Abu Ali has admitted his guilt multiple times in interviews with Saudi and American authorities. But Abu Ali's lawyers say the government's evidence was obtained through torture and that they have seen the scars on Abu Ali's back from beatings he endured while in Saudi custody.
The defense motion seeking forensic examinations includes affidavits from Ashraf Nubani and another lawyer who have seen the scars. Human rights lawyer Jenny Brooke-Condon described them as "muted linear discolorations of Mr. Abu Ali's skin that looked to me like scars ... in a scattered direction and appeared to be of various lengths."
Abu Ali has claimed he was whipped by Saudi authorities. Prosecutors have denied he was mistreated.
Judge Gerald Bruce Lee said he will hold a hearing on the defense request, possibly as soon as Friday. He set an Aug. 22 trial date.
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