NEW YORK - A federal judge in New York on Friday declined to assign a court-appointed attorney to Abu Anas al-Liby, the senior al-Qaida figure captured in Libya last weekend, saying it was premature because he has apparently not yet been formally arrested.
Al-Liby, whose real name is Nazih al-Ragye, faces federal charges in New York for his alleged role in the 1998 bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 224 civilians.
Since his capture in Libya, he has been held aboard a Navy ship in the Mediterranean where an elite team of American interrogators is questioning him.
US District Judge Lewis Kaplan rejected a request from the Federal Defenders of New York, which represents indigent federal defendants, to appoint a defense lawyer.
"The government denies that any federal criminal arrest has taken place, and there is no evidence to the contrary," wrote Kaplan, whose docket includes the al-Liby indictment. Even if an arrest is made, he said, the proper time to appoint counsel would be upon the first court appearance.