U.S. delays rights for al-Qaida suspect captured in Libya

WASHINGTON – The al-Qaida terrorist suspect known as Abu Anas al-Libi has the right to remain silent under U.S. law, but none of his American interrogators have told him that yet, U.S. officials say.

The 49-year-old Libyan was grabbed by U.S. special forces Saturday outside his home in Tripoli and faces federal charges stemming from the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in East Africa. He is being questioned aboard the San Antonio, an amphibious dock transport, in the Mediterranean Sea.

Under an arrangement developed by the Obama administration, he is being grilled for a short period by the High Value Detainee Interrogation Group, a special task force made up of personnel from the Pentagon, the FBI, the CIA and other agencies. Their job is to pump al-Libi for what he knows about terrorist networks, including his suspected contacts with al-Qaida chief Ayman Zawahiri.

In a trial, nothing al-Libi tells them can be shared with prosecutors or used against him without risking a mistrial.

At some point, he will be handed over to the Justice Department, read his rights as a criminal suspect and questioned again by a team of FBI agents who did not participate in the previous sessions. The “clean team” will gather evidence to support the criminal prosecution, say the officials, who declined to be named in discussing a sensitive operation.

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