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U.S. terrorism suspect's prison conditions OK - judge
NEW YORK |
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A U.S. federal judge on Friday refused to lift strict prison conditions placed upon an American student who was the first person extradited to the United States from Britain on terrorism charges.
A lawyer for Syed Hashmi, 28, who is charged with supporting al Qaeda, argued at a hearing held Friday that he is likely to suffer psychological problems from harsh prison restrictions, including being held in solitary confinement and limited family visits.
Hashmi was arrested in June 2006 at London's Heathrow airport and extradited to New York. He has pleaded not guilty to supporting al Qaeda, including holding ponchos, raincoats and waterproof socks in his London apartment for use by al Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan.
U.S District Judge Loretta Preska ruled Friday that the special prison conditions were appropriate, citing the case against him that includes pledging allegiance to al Qaeda, as well as statements Hashmi made to British authorities.
Preska also cited possible dangers to prison guards after an August, 2008 incident where one guard said Hashmi was "shadowboxing" and practicing martial arts.
Hashmi's lawyer had argued the boxing incident was not properly investigated, and in court papers said Hashmi was not informed of his Miranda rights when the statements were taken.
Hashmi has pleaded not guilty to all charges. If convicted he faces up to 70 years in prison. On Friday, he smiled at the courtroom packed with family members and friends, while outside a group of men prayed in the hallway.
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