Lawyers: NYC conditions harsh for terrorism client

AP News
Posted: Jan 14, 2013 6:57 PM

NEW YORK (AP) — Lawyers for an Egyptian Islamic preacher extradited from Great Britain in a terrorism case said Monday that the U.S. government has imposed harsh pre-trial restrictions reserved for the most dangerous terrorism defendants.

The lawyers said special administrative measures imposed more than a week ago on Mustafa Kamel Mustafa severely limit his communications and what he can read at a federal lockup in Manhattan. He is awaiting trial on charges that he conspired with Seattle men to set up a terrorist training camp in Oregon and helped abduct two American tourists and 14 other people in Yemen in 1998. He has pleaded not guilty.

Attorney Lindsay Lewis said the restrictions made conditions more difficult for a defendant who already had a hard time because he has no hands. She said hooks that he brought with him from London were supposed to be replaced with new prosthetics but that he has only undergone one fitting in a process that requires multiple fittings.

She said the care provided Mustafa varies from day to day, with the prison failing to deliver on a promise to bring him clean clothing every day. Lewis said clean clothing comes once or twice a week, with broken laundry machines sometimes cited as excuses.

Prosecutors did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

Another defense lawyer, Joshua Dratel, said the restrictions limit his client's access to the commissary, phone calls, visitors, the prison library, computers, newspapers and magazines and whatever else the prison "doesn't want to provide him with that day."

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He said it was extraordinary that they would be imposed six months after Mustafa arrived at the Metropolitan Correctional Center "at a time when we're looking for a level playing field" with the government ahead of a trial scheduled for August.

Mustafa, widely known as Abu Hamza al-Masri, was transferred from London in October, along with four other defendants charged with terrorism offenses.

Mustafa became well known in the 1990s as his Finsbury Park Mosque in London became a training ground for extremist Islamists, including Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui and would-be shoe bomber Richard Reid. He had been jailed since 2004 in Britain on separate charges.