Prisoner’s Statements to Feature in Upcoming Terror Trial

(CN) – A federal judge on Thursday refused to suppress evidence gathered from a Virginia man who will go on trial next week for fighting with the Islamic State group.

Attorney for Mohamad Jamal Khweis, 27, asked U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady to toss statements their client made to U.S. agents while he was being held in a Kurdish prison in Iraq.

They argued that at the time Khweis had not been properly brought before a magistrate judge, that his admissions were the product of government coercion, and that the agents failed to tell him his sister had hired him an attorney.

Khweis’s attorneys also sought to suppress information gathered from a search of his cellphone while in detention.

But Judge O’Grady said Khweis was capable of deciding to remain silent and voluntarily waived his Miranda rights.

As for the agents failure to tell Khweis he was represented by counsel, O’Grady said, “The Supreme Court has ‘never read the Constitution to require that the police supply a suspect with a flow of information to help him calibrate his self-interest in deciding whether to speak or stand by his rights.'”

The judge went on to point out that while Khweis didn’t learn he had a lawyer while in the Kurdish prison, he was told this during his transfer to the United States.

“This additional information … only strengthens the finding that the right was voluntarily waived,” O’Grady said.

Khweis was charged in March 2016 with providing material support to the Islamic State terrorist group.

He claims he traveled to Mosul, Iraq for romantic reasons — he says he followed a young woman there — but that once he became acquainted with Islamic State fighters, he immediately wanted to return home.

Kurdish forces captured Khweis in Erbil, Iraq and detained him for three months.  While there, he also made an appearance on Kurdish television, stating he wished to return to the United States.

Khweis will next appear in court on June 5.

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