WASHINGTON — Lawyers for a suspected Libyan militant charged in 2012 attacks that killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans urged a judge Thursday to send him home as a sanction for what they called their client's illegal capture and interrogation.
U.S. District Judge Casey Cooper did not immediately rule on the request, which appears unlikely to be granted.
Ahmed Abu Khattala was captured by U.S. special forces in a June 2014 nighttime raid in Libya and questioned aboard a Navy ship by both FBI and military interrogators on a trip that took nearly two weeks.
One of his lawyers, Mary Petras, argued Thursday that the entire process violated U.S. laws that prohibit the military from carrying out law enforcement actions. She said the Obama administration had authorized the military to "kidnap" a foreign citizen and bring him to the U.S. for criminal charges, sidestepping the diplomatic process, and then to question him for days despite a requirement that defendants be brought to court quickly.
"It is conduct that shocks the conscience," Petras said.
She said the only proper remedy for such an executive branch violation would be for Khattala to be sent back home to Libya.
"If the court does nothing," Petras said, "it will completely leave the government unchecked. This will become the new normal."
Federal prosecutors denied that any laws had been broken in the capture and subsequent interrogation process.
Khattala is awaiting trial in federal court on charges stemming from attacks on a State Department compound and nearby CIA annex in September 2012. The attacks killed four Americans, including Chris Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya.
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