NEW YORK (AP) — A British man who quit a 2001 shoe-bomb plot and became a valuable witness at terrorism trials told a judge Friday that he does not want to testify in the United States because he'll be arrested on terrorism charges filed in Boston.
Saajid Badat spoke to U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest via a video link from the United Kingdom several days after the judge told lawyers she thought Badat might surprise them and agree to testify in the United States if she asked him a series of direct questions.
His answers, though, mirrored what he said when his recorded testimony was shown in 2012 at a Brooklyn terrorism trial and again last month when he appeared through a live video feed from London at the trial of Osama bin Laden's son-in-law, who was al-Qaida's spokesman after the Sept. 11 attacks.
Forrest is deciding whether and, if so, how Badat might be permitted to testify at the April 14 terrorism trial of Mustafa Kamel Mustafa.
Mustafa has pleaded not guilty to charges he conspired to support al-Qaida. The U.S. government says he conspired with Seattle men in 1999 to set up a terrorist training camp in Oregon, and helped abduct two American tourists and 14 others in Yemen in 1998.
Badat, 35, wearing a blue sweater over a black shirt, sat in front of a camera, his hands folded in front of him, as Forrest told him it was possible that a judge might grant bail in the Massachusetts case or that he might not be arrested at all.
She quickly added: "I can make no promises and it is possible that you would be."
She pleaded with him to come to the United States to testify in person even though U.S. authorities have refused to grant him safe passage so he could return home.
"We very much need you to come and testify in person," Forrest told him. "Will you come to the U.S. later this month to testify?"
"No, I would like to testify remotely from the U.K.," Badat answered. "My understanding is if I would show up in the U.S., I would be arrested."
Badat testified via video link last month that he flew on planes over the Middle East and Europe with explosives in his shoe after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks but didn't detonate them because he was saving the bomb for an attack over America. He said he had a change of heart when he went home in December 2001 and his parents questioned him about his recent trip to Afghanistan, telling him he better not be a terrorist.
Arrested in 2003, Badat pleaded guilty in Great Britain to terrorism charges and served more than six years in prison before winning early release by cooperating with British and American authorities.
Badat was indicted in 2004 in Boston on charges he conspired with Richard Reid, who in December 2001 tried to blow up a U.S.-bound passenger jet with a shoe bomb. He faces charges including conspiring to destroy an aircraft and conspiracy to commit homicide.