- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 12, 2005

A consular officer who made prison visits in Saudi Arabia to a Falls Church man accused of joining al Qaeda testified yesterday that he saw no evidence the man had been tortured, but acknowledged that he was denied access to the prisoner for nearly a month.

The testimony came during a pretrial hearing in U.S. District Court in Alexandria to determine the validity of a confession given to Saudi authorities by Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, 24, who is charged with joining al Qaeda and plotting to assassinate President Bush.

Abu Ali says the Saudis tortured him into a false confession and that U.S. authorities were complicit in his torture and detention in Saudi Arabia. Abu Ali was arrested in June 2003 while attending college in Saudi Arabia and jailed there for 20 months until he was turned over to U.S. authorities to face charges.

U.S. officials deny Abu Ali was mistreated.

Charles Glatz, a State Department consular officer in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, was the first American to speak with Abu Ali after his arrest. Mr. Glatz said the first meeting occurred July 8, 2003, and that Abu Ali looked healthy. They met five subsequent times, and Abu Ali never raised issues of torture or mistreatment.

Mr. Glatz said he asked Abu Ali if he had been mistreated, and Abu Ali said no. “I did not doubt his answers. I found him credible. I believed him,” Mr. Glatz said.

Defense attorneys contend that most of the torture inflicted on Abu Ali, including floggings, occurred in the first three days after his arrest, so evidence of torture might not have been apparent to Mr. Glatz a month later.

Defense attorneys are seeking to have Abu Ali’s confession tossed out of court and the case dismissed.

If U.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee allows the case to proceed to trial, it is scheduled to begin Oct. 24. Yesterday, the court began jury selection by asking about 100 prospective jurors to fill out a questionnaire.

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