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Terror Suspect's Lawyers Ask Court to Suppress Evidence


Lawyers for terror suspect Jose Padilla are seeking to suppress statements their client made to U.S. government agents before he was arrested in May 2002. Padilla is being held in Miami and appeared in court Monday for a pretrial hearing.

A special agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Russell Fincher, testified about interviewing Padilla for hours at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport in 2002.

Fincher says he believed Padilla had information about a terror attack and officials wanted his cooperation. The agent says authorities believe Padilla trained with al-Qaida and met with top al-Qaida leaders in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

He says Padilla willingly talked to investigators, but gave vague or inconsistent answers. Fincher says Padilla eventually refused to cooperate further and was then read his rights and arrested. But Padilla's lawyers are seeking to have the statements their client made before his arrest suppressed, saying he should have been informed of his legal rights from the start.

Padilla was designated an enemy combatant and held in military custody for three years without charge for an alleged plot to detonate a radiological device, a so-called dirty bomb. He was transferred to civilian custody last year and charged with being part of a North American terror network. He has pleaded not guilty.

The current charges do not include the alleged dirty bomb plot.

The pre-trial hearing resumes Tuesday. The judge has not indicated when he would rule on the request to suppress those statements. Padilla is expected to go on trial later this year.