Attorney Donna R. Newman announced June 11 that she will challenge the detention of Jose Padilla, a U.S. citizen who is being held by the Justice Department without criminal charges as a suspect in a “bomb plot.”

Padilla, a Puerto Rican born in Brooklyn, also known as Abdullah al Muhajir, was seized May 8 when he arrived in Chicago aboard a flight from Zurich. He is being held in a military stockade in South Carolina where he could be tried by a secret military tribunal.

The Bush administration claims he conspired with Al Qaeda to explode a “dirty bomb” laced with radioactive materials in a U.S. city but the evidence is so scant that he has not been charged with a crime.

“My client is a citizen,” Newman said. “He still has constitutional rights, the right to counsel, the right to be charged by a grand jury and he has not been charged.”

In its lead editorial June 12, The New York Times wrote, “Mr. Mujahir’s case shows the governement is prepared to strip away the rights of American citizens as readily as those of foreigners.”

(A fuller report will be carried in next week’s edition.)

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