COLUMBUS, Ohio – A Somali immigrant accused of conspiring to help terrorists blow up a shopping mall is asking that his statements to investigators — including what he knew about a member of Al Qaeda (search) — be barred from his trial.
Attorney Mahir T. Sherif said Nuradin Abdi (search) was arrested without grounds and pressured to answer investigators' questions. On June 1, he asked a federal judge to bar the statements, which are sealed.
Agents told Abdi last November they were arresting him for violating immigration laws, but did not specify which laws and did not show him a warrant until three days later, Sherif said. Agents used his statements to build a case against him, Sherif said.
"It was a warrantless arrest to start with, and after keeping him for three days and questioning him for three days, they used his own statements to go get a warrant," Sherif said Monday.
In a statement filed with the request to bar his statements, Abdi said he believed if he cooperated with agents and gave them information about Iyman Faris (search), he would be allowed to go home. Faris has pleaded guilty to helping terrorists.
Fred Alverson, spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office here, said prosecutors will file a response by July 1.
Abdi, 33, has pleaded innocent to charges of conspiring to aid terrorists and lying to gain political asylum in the United States as a refugee. Prosecutors accuse him of obtaining travel documents in 1999 by telling officials he planned to visit Germany and Saudi Arabia when he actually went to a military-style training camp for terrorists in Ethiopia.
If convicted, he could get up to 80 years. His trial is scheduled for Sept. 19.
Sherif also asked for the case to be tried outside Ohio, where he says his client is widely known as "the mall bomber." An alleged plot was never acted upon.