US defense lawyers are demanding to be allowed to represent a Libyan man who was abducted by US military forces, arguing there is no legal basis for holing him “offshore” on a navy vessel.
The Telegraph reported on Wednesday that it obtained a letter from the New York public defender’s office which demanded its team be appointed to represent Abu Anas al-Libi who was kidnapped on Oct. 5 by US Special Forces on the streets of the Libyan capital, Tripoli, in broad daylight.
Al-Libi was abducted over his alleged involvement in the 1998 twin bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and is believed to be held in military custody and interrogated on board a navy ship, the USS Antonio, in the Mediterranean.
Officials say al-Libi has not been Mirandized, and is facing open-ended interrogation on the ship without access to a lawyer.
The letter obtained by the Telegraph points out that the rules of criminal procedure require “that a defendant arrested outside of the United States be taken without unnecessary delay before a magistrate judge, unless a statute provides otherwise.”
Al-Libi “is a defendant in an indicted case before this Court. He was arrested three days ago on October 5 by United States authorities. I am not aware of any lawful basis for the delay in his appearance and the appointment of counsel,” the letter adds.
Questions raised by American defense lawyers over the legality of keeping a captive indefinitely in military custody at sea come as the administration of President Barack Obama has repeatedly defended the abduction of al-Libi.
On Monday, US Secretary of State John Kerry defended al-Libi’s abduction as “legal” and “appropriate.”
US State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf also said on Wednesday that the Obama administration acted in compliance with “the international laws of war, the fact that we have an ability, under international law, to self-defend.”
Meanwhile, a number of Republican lawmakers have asked for sending al-Libi to the notorious US-run Guantanamo prison for interrogation.