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Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 July, 2005, 22:38 GMT 23:38 UK
'Dirty bomb' detention challenged
Jose Padilla
Jose Padilla was arrested at Chicago airport in May 2002
The lawyer for a US citizen accused of involvement in a "dirty bomb" plot has said his client should not be held indefinitely without criminal charges.

Al-Qaeda suspect Jose Padilla has been held at a US military jail as an "enemy combatant" for the past three years.

The justice department alleges that he planned to blow up apartments and set off a radioactive weapon in the US.

But Mr Padilla's lawyer told an appeals court the government should charge his client with a crime, or set him free.

"I may be the first lawyer to stand here and say I'm asking for my client to be indicted by a federal grand jury," Andrew Patel told the court.

The government is appealing against a court order to release Mr Padilla.

Battlefield boundaries

The former gang member was arrested at Chicago Airport in May 2002 on suspicion of planning to detonate a conventional bomb laced with radioactive material.

Lawyers have challenged Mr Bush's right to hold Mr Padilla indefinitely as an "enemy combatant".

They argue that the president is exceeding his authority by denying such prisoners access to lawyers and courts.

The Bush administration says such detentions are necessary to prevent terrorism in the US.

A White House lawyer told the court on Tuesday that the government is concerned Mr Padilla "would go back to a battlefield".

"I don't think the law of war limits the government to capture only on the battlefield," Paul Clement said.

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