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Federal judge refuses to dismiss Padilla terrorism support charges

[JURIST] A US federal judge Friday refused to dismiss terrorism support charges [indictment, PDF] against Jose Padilla [JURIST news archive], finding that Padilla's 3 1/2 years in custody as an "enemy combatant" [JURIST news archive] did not violate his constitutional rights. US District Judge Marcia Cooke [official profile] said that the Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial [text] was not invoked until Padilla was charged with a crime; the years that Padilla was held in a Navy brig did not count because he was not charged until November 2005. One of Padilla's lawyers, Orlando do Campo, said the delay in coming to trial gave prosecutors an unfair advantage in building their case.

Padilla, a US citizen, was arrested in 2002 at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport and subsequently detained as an "enemy combatant" at a Navy military brig in Charleston, South Carolina. Initially accused of planning to set off a radioactive "dirty bomb" [NRC factsheet] in the United States, Padilla went from enemy combatant to criminal defendant when he was finally charged [JURIST report] in November 2005 on unrelated counts of conspiracy to murder US nationals and supporting terrorist activity. He was transferred to civilian custody [JURIST report] in January 2006 and has pleaded not guilty [JURIST report] to the charges. In February, Padilla was ruled competent to stand trial [JURIST report]. AP has more.

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