REUTERS - A lawyer for an Afghan-born U.S. citizen charged with bombings last weekend in New York and New Jersey asked to see his client on Wednesday and suggested the man's first court appearance could occur in his hospital bed.
Police in New York City also said they had not yet been cleared to speak to Ahmad Khan Rahami, 28, who was arrested on Monday after a gunfight with police in Linden, New Jersey. He is now receiving treatment for his wounds at a hospital in Newark, New Jersey, where he could formally face his charges if he cannot travel to the U.S. District Court in Manhattan.
"He has been held and questioned by federal law enforcement agents since his arrest," David Patton, head of the New York City federal public defenders office, said in a court filing. "The Sixth Amendment (of the U.S. Constitution) requires that he be given access to counsel on the federal charges, and that he be presented without delay."
Patton also asked to meet with Rahami on Wednesday.
"He's not yet medically cleared so that we can speak to him just yet," New York Police Commissioner James O'Neill told a news conference. "That may happen in the next 24 hours, pending the doctors' approval."
Federal prosecutors said Rahami injured 31 people in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood with a homemade bomb that detonated on Saturday night in a case that law enforcement authorities now regard as terrorism.
Rahami is also charged with planting bombs that went off in Seaside Park, New Jersey, and his hometown of Elizabeth, New Jersey, but did not injure anyone. He faces charges from federal prosecutors in both states.
Rahami's wife met with U.S. law enforcement officials while in the United Arab Emirates and voluntarily gave a statement, a law enforcement official said. She was not in custody, the official said. A New Jersey U.S. congressman previously said Rahami had emailed his office in 2014 for help in getting her a visa to enter the United States from Pakistan when she was pregnant.
The FBI said on Wednesday that it wanted to speak with two men seen in surveillance footage picking up a second bag containing a pressure-cooker bomb believed to be planted by Rahami in Chelsea on Saturday night. The two left the device on the street and took the bag.
Officials said they regard the men as potential witnesses, not suspects.
Praise for Bin Laden
Federal prosecutors portrayed Rahami, who came to the United States at age 7 and became a naturalized citizen, as embracing militant Islamic views, begging for martyrdom and expressing outrage at the U.S. "slaughter" of Muslim fighters in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Palestine.
"Inshallah (God willing), the sounds of bombs will be heard in the streets," Rahami wrote in a journal that he was carrying when arrested, according to prosecutors.
"Gun shots to your police. Death to your oppression," read the journal, stained with blood following Monday's gun battle.
Rahami, in other parts of his journal, praised "Brother" Osama bin Laden, the al Qaeda leader slain in a 2011 U.S. raid in Pakistan; Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born Muslim cleric and leading al Qaeda propagandist who was killed in a 2011 U.S. drone strike in Yemen; and Nidal Hasan, the U.S. Army psychiatrist who shot dead 13 people and wounded 32 at Fort Hood, Texas, in 2009.
The attacks in New York and New Jersey were the latest in a series in the United States inspired by Islamic militant groups including al Qaeda and Islamic State. A pair of ethnic Chechen brothers killed three people and injured more than 260 at the 2013 Boston Marathon with homemade pressure-cooker bombs similar to those used in this weekend's attacks.
In the past year, an Orlando gunman and a married couple in San Bernardino killed dozens in mass shootings inspired by Islamic State.
Federal investigators were probing Rahami's history of travel to Afghanistan and Pakistan, and looking for any evidence that he may have picked up radical views or trained in bomb-making on those trips. They still are trying to find out whether he received any help in planning his attack or building the bombs.
The charging documents lay out a wide swath of evidence pointing to Rahami as the bomber. Surveillance video places him in the area, and his fingerprints were on unexploded devices including a pressure-cooker bomb found blocks away from the blast.
If Rahami's first court appearance occurs in the hospital bed, he would not be the first U.S. terrorism suspect to be charged in such a venue.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was convicted last year for his role in the Boston Marathon attacks and sentenced to death, also first faced charges in his hospital bed while he was still recovering from injuries sustained in a gunfight with police.
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