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Law

Saudis deny torturing detained American


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Ahmed Omar Abu Ali is depicted on Tuesday in this courtroom sketch.
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An American charged in an alleged plot to kill President Bush.
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RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (CNN) -- Saudi Arabia on Wednesday denied accusations that its authorities tortured an American who is linked to an alleged plot to kill President Bush.

The American, 23-year-old Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, was charged Tuesday with providing material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organization -- al Qaeda.

On Tuesday, his attorney alleged in federal court that Abu Ali was tortured while in the custody of Saudi authorities.

Saudi Interior Ministry spokesman Brig. Gen. Mansour al-Turki denied Abu Ali's torture allegations and allegations that his arrest had been requested by U.S. officials.

Saudi Embassy spokesman Nail al-Jubeir also denied that Abu Ali was tortured in Saudi Arabia.

According to the six-count indictment, Abu Ali "did knowingly and unlawfully conspire to knowingly provide material support and resources ... knowing and intending that they were to be used in preparation for, and for carrying out, the assassination of the president of the United States." (Full story)

Abu Ali is not charged with a conspiracy to assassinate Bush, only for supporting terrorists and, as part of that, discussing Bush's possible assassination. He was denied bail Tuesday.

On Tuesday, during proceedings in U.S. District Court, Abu Ali's defense attorney Ashraf Nubani told Judge Liam O'Grady that Abu Ali wanted to tell the court that he had been tortured while he was being held in Saudi Arabia.

"He was whipped and handcuffed days at a time," Nubani said.

O'Grady declined Abu Ali's offer to show the court alleged markings on his back that Nubani said could prove he was tortured. The judge said that could take place Thursday, when Abu Ali is scheduled for a detention hearing to determine whether he receives bond.

"I can assure you [Abu Ali] will not suffer any other torture or humiliation," O'Grady said.

Abu Ali was arrested after the May 2003 terrorist bombings in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in which 23 people, including nine Americans, were killed. Sources familiar with the case have said Abu Ali is suspected of having connections to individuals involved in the attacks.

Between September 2002 and June 9, 2003, the U.S. government charges, Abu Ali and an unidentified co-conspirator "discussed plans for Abu Ali to assassinate President of the United States George W. Bush."

The Saudi spokesman said Abu Ali was arrested because he had connections with local terrorist groups that had been involved in confrontations with Saudi security forces. He said Abu Ali wasn't charged during his Saudi detention because there wasn't enough evidence to prosecute him for crimes in Saudi Arabia.

Al-Turki initially said he believed Abu Ali's transfer was requested by the United States. Later, Al-Turki said Abu Ali's transfer was a deportation request by Abu Ali and his family. Abu Ali and his family are not Saudi citizens, al-Turki said.

Abu Ali's family filed a lawsuit last year against the U.S. government alleging that American authorities had asked in June of 2003 for the Saudis to arrest him. U.S. officials have denied that assertion.

Abu Ali's transfer of custody from Saudi authorities to U.S. officials on Monday followed a recent U.S. demand to the Saudis to either charge Abu Ali or release him to American custody.

Abu Ali's father, Omar Abu Ali, said he learned from the FBI only on Monday that his son would return to the United States from Saudi Arabia that night.

"I feel that the truth will come soon," Omar Abu Ali said at a hearing Tuesday before the charges were read. "He will be a free man soon."

Omar Abu Ali said his son is guilty of no crimes. "All of what the government said is lies upon lies."

Journalist Anthony Mills in Riyadh contributed to this report.


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