Updates to our Terms of Use

We are updating our Terms of Use. Please carefully review the updated Terms before proceeding to our website.

Thursday, May 23, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Suspected al-Qaida Agent Loses Evidence Challenge

(CN) - A man accused of helping al-Qaida bomb U.S. Embassies in East Africa cannot suppress evidence of his 1998 interrogation at a London police station, a federal judge ruled.

Adel Abdel Bary has been in U.S. custody since his extradition from the United Kingdom last year. He was charged in New York for, among other things, conspiring with Osama bin Laden on the Aug. 7, 1998, bombings of U.S. Embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Combined, these attacks killed 224 people, and injured many more.

British police had actually arrested Abdel Bary on Sept. 23, 1998, nearly two months after the attacks, and detectives interviewed him for periodically over the next three days. An appointed attorney was present at all times.

Before each interview, the detectives told Abdel Bary: "You do not have to say anything, but it may harm your defense if you do not mention when questioned something which you later rely on in court. Do you understand what that caution means?"

Abdel Bary proceeded to answer "no comment," in response to every question posed to him during the interviews. He was released four days later.

He now claims that his 2008 statements to British detectives should be suppressed because he was under duress, and was not given his Miranda rights.

But U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan rejected these arguments Wednesday.

"Mr. Abdel Bary is a well-educated and intelligent individual," the 29-page opinion states. "Indeed, he was a lawyer in his native Egypt and was a partner in his own law firm there at the time of his arrest."

Although Abdel Bary did not speak English, an interpreter was always present, and he clearly understood the questions posed to him, even asserting his objection when he believed a question irrelevant.

"The conditions of Mr. Abdel Bary's interrogation clearly were acceptable and not coercive," Kaplan found.

Abdel Bary was not questioned in violation of the Supreme Court's landmark 1966 decision Miranda v. Arizona because his 2008 arrest and interrogation was a British matter, without any American involvement, and he was properly informed of his rights under British law.

"The fact that the British shared information resulting from the searches and interviews with U.S. officials, and that British authorities assisted in evidence collection from the embassy bombing sites, did not render British police officers agents or joint venturers of U.S. authorities who were employed for the purpose of evading Miranda," Kaplan said. "Instead, the U.K. police conducted a 'completely British operation' in which Abdel Bary was arrested and interviewed. As this operation was not a joint venture with the U.S. government, no Miranda warnings were required."

Abdel Bary also asserted that the U.S. infringed on his right to religious freedom by calling his form of Islam "extremist." He said, "the government does not have the right to decide what forms of religion are 'normal' versus 'extreme," as quoted in Kaplan's decision.

The judge found this argument "unpersuasive," but did not elaborate.

Abdel Bary will be tried jointly with Kahlid Al Fawwaz, another alleged al-Qaida operative, next year. Both have pleaded not guilty.

Last year, a New York jury found Ahmed Ghailani guilty for his role in the U.S. Embassy bombings.

Categories / Uncategorized

Subscribe to Closing Arguments

Sign up for new weekly newsletter Closing Arguments to get the latest about ongoing trials, major litigation and hot cases and rulings in courthouses around the U.S. and the world.