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US: Pak cab driver charged for terror seeks release

December 01, 2010 03:35 IST

Raja Lahrasib Khan, the 56-year-old Pakistani American cab driver accused of sending some few thousand dollars to Al Qaeda leader Ilyas Kashmiri filed a motion for his release in a US court.

Khan's attorney, Thomas Durkin said that he could not prepare his defense without Khan's assistance. He filed a motion for his release on conditions to assist in the preparation of his trial. Durkin requested Jude James Zagel to permit adequate access to the overwhelmingly voluminous digitalised discovery materials, according to a copy of the motion filed.

Due to Khan's incarceration it is virtually impossible for the defendant to have sufficient opportunity to review the materials, much less consult with counsel upon review, the motion states. Voluminous audio recordings are mostly in Urdu and Arabic and to date counsel have received 41 CD-ROM disks containing non-classified information some of which have been labeled "sensitive" materials for purposes of protective order.

In this case, it is important that the defendant review all the audio recordings since the counsel can speak only English, the motion noted. Khan's review of the discovery, particularly the digital discovery has been significantly hampered due to the inordinate technical problems and limited computer access in the Special Housing Unit at the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) where he is locked up.

Khan allegedly made a number of cell phone calls for his underhand dealings relating to Kashmiri. The current pre-trial detention order operationally deprives the Defendant of his Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights to Due Process and the Effective Assistance of Counsel, therefore, temporary release of the Defendant so that he can assist in the preparation of his defense is necessary, the motion read.

Khan was arrested on March 26 this year when he was driving his cab. The defendant was accused of sending a few thousand dollars to Ilyas Kashmiri, a top commander of Al Qaeda, so that Kashmiri could purchase explosives. Khan is also accused of planning to bomb a US stadium over the summer. Last November, Khan wired US $ 950 to an unidentified person in Pakistan intended for Kashmiri and referred to the latter as "Lala" because he thought his phones might be tapped.

Later, Khan also tried to send money through his son to Kashmiri given to him by an undercover agent, according to court documents. However, Khan's son was apprehended by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents at Chicago O'Hare Airport on March 23. Khan has been charged with two counts of providing material support to terrorism, with each count carrying a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a US $ 250,000 fine.

Himani Kumar in Chicago
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