AMMAN, Jordan – Saddam Hussein's (search) chief lawyer quit the Iraqi dictator's Jordan-based legal team, saying Thursday some of the team's American members were trying to control the defense and tone down his criticism of the U.S. presence in Iraq.
Ziad al-Khasawneh told The Associated Press he tendered his resignation in a telephone call Tuesday to Saddam's wife, Sajida, who is believed to be in Yemen.
"I told her I was resigning because some American lawyers in the defense team want to take control of it and isolate their Arab counterparts," said al-Khasawneh, an Arab nationalist who has often expressed support for Iraqi resistance. Among the Americans on the team are former U.S. attorney general Ramsey Clark (search).
Al-Khasawneh said Clark and Curtis Doebbler, another American lawyer helping defend Saddam, were "upset with my statements and have often asked me to refrain from criticizing the American occupation of Iraq and the U.S.-backed Iraqi government."
Al-Khasawneh said Saddam's eldest daughter, Raghad, allegedly removed all files related to Saddam's defense from his office. "I was away in Libya when she did all that without my knowledge," he said.
Raghad favors the Americans and non-Arabs on the team "because she thinks they will win the case and free her father," he said.
Raghad was not immediately available for comment.
Saddam's legal team includes 1,500 volunteers and at least 22 lead lawyers who come from several countries, including the United States, France, Jordan, Iraq and Libya. No date has been set for the trial of Saddam, captured by U.S. troops in December 2003.
Al-Khasawneh said Raghad was allegedly seeking to exchange the Jordan-based legal team with an international Emergency Committee for Iraq (search), which was announced last month in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The committee seeks to ensure a fair trial for Saddam and other officials of the former Iraqi government that was ousted by U.S. forces two years ago, said former Malaysian leader Mahathir Mohamad, announcing the committee. Besides Mahathir, other co-chairs include Clark, former Algerian President Ahmed Ben Bella and former French Foreign Minister Roland Dumas.
Al-Khasawneh became Saddam's chief lawyer in November, weeks after the dictator's family dismissed Mohammed al-Rashdan, a prominent Jordanian lawyer who led the defense team, accusing him of seeking fame in the high-profile case that has drawn world attention.