Judge Mian Anwar Nazir of the anti-terror court in Sargodha in Punjab province framed charges against the accused--Ramy Zamzam, 22, Waqar Hussain Khan, 22, Ahmed Abdullah Minni, 20, Iman Hasan Yemer, 17 and Omar Farooq, 24, and adjourned the case till March 31.
The five, arrested last year by Pakistani police, were produced before the judge in the district jail amidst tight security. The youths, who can be jailed for life if found guilty, denied the seven terrorism-related charges against them read out by the judge.
A US embassy counsellor was also present during the hearing. Khalid Khwaja, counsel for the accused, submitted an application to the court that said the lives of the five Americans could be in danger if they are handed over to the US.
He said that if the US provides a guarantee about the safety of the Americans, the Pakistan government could then be allowed to extradite them. Following their arrest last year, police booked the youths for planning terror attacks in Pakistan and for planning to travel to Afghanistan to fight US-led forces.