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1998 U.S. embassy bombing suspect loses bid to get charges dismissed

A courtroom sketch shows Nazih al-Ragye known by the alias Abu Anas al-Liby as he appears in Manhattan Federal Court for an arraignment in N
A courtroom sketch shows Nazih al-Ragye known by the alias Abu Anas al-Liby as he appears in Manhattan Federal Court for an arraignment in N

By Joseph Ax

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Alleged senior al Qaeda figure Anas al-Liby lost a bid on Thursday to have charges against him dismissed in connection with the deadly 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan in New York rejected al-Liby's claims that his indictment should be thrown out because of the "inhumane treatment" he received from American interrogators after being apprehended in Libya last October.

U.S. authorities say al-Liby, whose real name is Nazih al-Ragye, is a high-level al Qaeda member who served as a liaison between North African militant groups and Ayman al-Zawahiri, the Egyptian doctor who now leads the remnants of al Qaeda's core operation.

Al-Liby's lawyer, Bernard Kleinman, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Al-Liby was seized by U.S. forces in Libya on October 5, 2013, and was briefly kept aboard a Navy ship for interrogation before his ailing health prompted authorities to transport him to New York to face federal charges. He pleaded not guilty in October to involvement in the bombings, which killed 224 people.

Kleinman claimed in court papers that the interrogation was conducted "in an unrelenting, hostile, and extraordinary manner" and that al-Liby was not informed of his right to legal counsel or his rights under international treaties.

But in a 15-page decision, Kaplan found that the assertions filed by al-Liby's attorney were not based on "competent evidence."

"There is no claim that counsel has personal knowledge of any of the matters discussed," Kaplan wrote, adding that al-Liby himself had not submitted an affidavit describing his treatment.

Even if he accepted the allegations as true, however, Kaplan said he would still reject the motion to dismiss the indictment.

"Al-Liby's counsel has not alleged torture or brutality," Kaplan wrote.

Kleinman also argued that the arrest of al-Liby violated certain international treaties, including the Hague Convention, because it infringed upon Libya's sovereignty. But Kaplan said the dismissal of criminal charges is not a remedy that is available under such treaties.

Al-Liby is scheduled to go to trial in November along with two co-defendants, Egyptian Adel Bary and Saudi Khalid al-Fawwaz.

Both were extradited from the United Kingdom in 2012 along with London imam Abu Hamza al-Masri, who was found guilty of terrorism charges in New York earlier this week.

(Reporting by Joseph Ax; editing by Gunna Dickson)

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