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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 January, 2005, 10:26 GMT
US 'wanted Ba'asyir detained'
Abu Bakar Ba'asyir is being escorted from prison after being re-arrested in April
Ba'asyir claims he is on trial because of US pressure
A US envoy pressed Indonesia to detain and hand over radical Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Ba'asyir a month before the Bali bombings, a Jakarta court has heard.

Frederick Black Burks told the court he acted as interpreter when the unnamed envoy met former Indonesian president Megawati in September 2002.

"The envoy emphasised that [Ba'asyir] was very, very wicked and must be detained," Mr Burks told the court.

Mr Burks gave evidence for the defence, which says the trial is political.

Ba'asyir is charged with planning acts of terrorism, and of acting as an accessory to the October 2002 Bali bomb attacks.

Mr Burks, who resigned as a US State Department interpreter last year, told the court that he attended a meeting on 16 September 2002 at former President Megawati's residence.
Under anti-terror law:
  • Conspiring, planning and inciting acts of terrorism (e.g. Marriott attacks)
  • Using position to influence/persuade others
  • Withholding information
  • Under criminal code:
  • Accessory to Bali attacks

  • Mr Burks said the US delegation to the meeting included a CIA envoy, the former ambassador to Jakarta, Ralph Boyce, and a US National Security Council official.

    Mr Burks said the envoy told Mrs Megawati that Ba'asyir was responsible for a string of bombings in Indonesia on Christmas Eve in 2000, and asked for the cleric to be handed over.

    Mr Burks said Mrs Megawati rejected the request, and said she hoped the matter would not hurt relations.

    The US authorities have always denied putting any pressure on Jakarta to act against Ba'asyir.

    The 66-year-old cleric was acquitted of treason charges last year, after judges ruled that there was not enough evidence to link him to militant group Jemaah Islamiah, which is widely believed to have carried out the Bali bombings.

    But prosecutors now say they have new evidence to back up their case.

    Some of the charges he faces carry the death penalty.

    Cleric 'did not know' of bomb
    02 Dec 04 |  Asia-Pacific
    Indonesian cleric ridicules trial
    04 Nov 04 |  Asia-Pacific
    Guide to the Philippines conflict
    30 Mar 04 |  Asia-Pacific
    Jemaah Islamiah still a threat
    13 Sep 04 |  Asia-Pacific
    The Bali bombing plot
    02 Oct 03 |  Asia-Pacific


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