Alleged al-Qaida operative Padilla says he was tortured while in Navy custody

Thursday, November 2, 2006

By CURT ANDERSON

The Associated Press

MIAMI -- Alleged al-Qaida operative Jose Padilla claims he was tortured during his 3 1/2 years in U.S. custody as an enemy combatant, including threats of execution and being forced stand for long periods.

Padilla's lawyers are asking a federal judge to dismiss the terror support charges against him because he suffered from "outrageous government conduct" during more than 1,300 days in military custody.

U.S. Attorney R. Alexander Acosta in Miami declined comment. Prosecutors and Defense Department officials intend to respond to the allegations by Nov. 13.

Padilla, a 36-year-old former Chicago gang member, was declared an enemy combatant by President Bush in June 2002, shortly after he was arrested when he arrived at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. U.S. authorities initially claimed he was on an al-Qaida mission to detonate a radioactive "dirty bomb" in a U.S. city.

He was held and interrogated at a Navy brig, where he was usually held in a small isolation cell, until he was transferred to civilian custody in January to face federal terrorism support charges in Miami along with two others. Trial on those charges, which do not mention the "dirty bomb" allegations, is scheduled to begin Jan. 22.

The judge has not indicated when she will rule.

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