Accused New York bomber's wife back;
lawyer seeks access to suspect
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[September 23, 2016]
By David Ingram
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The wife of the
Afghan-born U.S. citizen charged in last weekend's bombings in New York
City and New Jersey has returned to the United States, a law enforcement
official said on Thursday, as a defense lawyer pressed to get access to
the accused man.
Ahmad Khan Rahami, 28, has been held in a Newark, New Jersey, hospital
since being arrested on Monday with wounds after a shootout with police.
Rahami faces federal charges in both states stemming from a Saturday
night bombing in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood that injured 31 people
and explosives found in two New Jersey locations. No one was killed in
Rahami's wife, Asia Bibi Rahami, flew back to the United States
overnight, a law enforcement official said. She had voluntarily met with
U.S. law enforcement authorities while in the United Arab Emirates this
week and gave a statement.
Two years ago when she was pregnant, Rahami had sought the assistance of
a U.S. congressman from New Jersey in getting her a visa to allow her to
come to the United States from Pakistan.
Rahami and another woman had a child together but had not seen each
other in more than two years, the second woman said in a statement
reported by ABC News on Thursday. Rahami had reached out to them just
once in the past year, she said.
"I have cooperated with authorities and told them all I know about Ahmad
Rahami," said the woman, who was not named in the statement. In court
documents filed on Tuesday where she is seeking sole custody of their
child, the woman identified herself as Maria Mena.
Authorities have been trying to determine whether Rahami, a naturalized
U.S. citizen who emigrated from Afghanistan with his family at the age
of 7 and lived in Elizabeth, New Jersey, had any assistance in planning
the bombings or making the homemade devices.
Rahami was motivated by militant Islamic views, prosecutors said, citing
a journal he was carrying when captured in which he begged for martyrdom
and expressed outrage at the U.S. "slaughter" of Muslim fighters in
Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Palestine. The case is being treated by
authorities as an act of terrorism.
ACCESS TO A LAWYER
Prosecutors and New York's top federal public defender are squabbling
over when Rahami will get a lawyer.
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Ahmad Khan Rahami,. Courtesy Union County Prosecutorís
Office/Handout via REUTERS
David Patton, the head of the federal public defenders office in New
York, asked on Wednesday to be appointed as Rahami's attorney and to
be allowed to meet with him, saying the suspect has not had legal
advice thus far.
The FBI said Rahami was arrested by police in New Jersey and
remained in the custody of that state, not the federal government. A
U.S. magistrate judge said late on Wednesday that he accepted that
"The Government asserts unequivocally that the defendant 'is not in
federal custody,'" Judge Gabriel Gorenstein wrote in an order.
"Whether there are federal authorities questioning defendant does
not address the issue of custody."
The judge said the timetable for when Rahami can meet with a public
defender cannot be decided until the issue of custody is resolved.
Normally, a U.S. criminal defendant goes before a magistrate with
little delay and, if too poor to afford a lawyer, is appointed a
lawyer at that first appearance or soon afterward.
The FBI also continued to search for two men who found a second,
unexploded pressure-cooker device that prosecutors say Rahami left
in a piece of luggage in Chelsea on Saturday night.
The two men, who took the bag but left the device behind, are not
suspects, officials said, but potential witnesses.
(Reporting by David Ingram; Additional reporting by Nate Raymond;
Editing by Will Dunham and Alan Crosby)
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