BOSTON – Federal investigators told a judge Tuesday that they want to question would-be shoe bomber Richard Reid because it was likely that he has "important information" about terrorist activities.
But prosecutors said in U.S. District Court they don't believe Reid is entitled to a public defender now that his criminal case is over.
Reid, a British citizen and self-described follower of Usama bin Laden, pleaded guilty in 2002 to trying to blow up a trans-Atlantic flight with explosives hidden in his shoes. He is now serving a life sentence at a maximum-security federal prison in Florence, Colo.
In April, a judge extended a 2003 order allowing Reid to continue to be represented by federal public defenders. At the time, Reid was expected to be called as a witness in the trial of Al Qaeda conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui. Reid was never called as a witness.
U.S. District Judge William Young said he would keep in place the orders continuing Reid's representation by public defenders, noting that under those orders, the government can only contact Reid after giving notice to his lawyers and having them present for any interviews with him.
Assistant U.S. Attorney James Farmer said investigators want to talk to Reid without an attorney present to develop a "personal rapport," which would be difficult to do with an attorney or any third party in the room.
Farmer said federal agents believe Reid — even though he has been in prison for nearly five years — could have information on terrorism plots that could still be carried out. He said Al Qaeda plots are known to "have long gestation periods."
Judith Mizner, one of Reid's public defenders, said Reid has repeatedly made it clear he will not talk to investigators without an attorney present. She expressed skepticism about prosecutors' claim that they only want to talk to Reid and do not plan to interrogate him for the purposes of charging him with additional crimes.
Young urged both prosecutors and Reid's lawyers to consider bringing the case to a federal judge in Colorado, where Reid is serving his life sentence.