NEW YORK (AP) — Osama bin Laden and the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks should not be mentioned at the upcoming terrorism trial of an Egyptian Islamic preacher extradited from England, his defense lawyers said in court papers filed Wednesday.
The lawyers said references to the attacks and to the deceased founder of al-Qaida or his associates "would completely" deprive Mustafa Kamel Mustafa of a fair trial on charges that he conspired with Seattle men in October 1999 to set up a terrorist training camp in Oregon and helped abduct two American tourists and 14 others in Yemen in 1998.
"The charges in this case relate broadly to alleged illegal conduct and material support for terrorism, but the charged acts are not alleged to have been connected in any way to the attacks of September 11, 2001, to Osama bin Laden, or to any of the other individuals involved in the planning and execution of those attacks," the lawyers wrote.
They said the events of Sept. 11, 2001, and of the country's reaction to the attacks will already be in the minds of jurors in any terrorism trial in the United States for the foreseeable future, and the government should be stopped from even making references to the attacks or bin Laden and his followers.
The lawyers also sought to exclude from the trial the showing of any video, audio or photographs depicting acts of violence that are unrelated to the charges, saying those too would be "highly prejudicial."
The submission comes several months after defense lawyers had earlier asked that bin Laden's name be excluded from the trial, scheduled for April 14.
Prosecutors opposed the request, saying in court papers that references to bin Laden will not be prejudicial or inflammatory and are important to explaining the case against Mustafa to the jury.
They said Mustafa is charged with conspiring to provide or providing material support to al-Qaida and said the fact that bin Laden was the leader of the group at that time "is plainly relevant."
U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest said last summer when she refused to toss out charges against Mustafa that she would handle complaints about inflammatory language at trial on a case-by-case basis, though she noted that the language had been permitted at past terrorism trials.
Mustafa was extradited to the U.S. from Great Britain in October 2012, to face the charges.