The mother of Zacarias Moussaoui, the first man indicted in the September terrorist attacks, has flown to the United States from France, with a lawyer to plead that her son be spared the death penalty.
Arriving Thursday at Dulles Airport, Aicha Moussaoui hoped to see her 33-year-old son, who so far is the only person charged with direct involvement in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. She also plans to attend his arraignment in an Alexandria, Virginia court on Jan. 2.
Her lawyer, Francois Roux, told reporters, "We are here to try to have a meeting with Mr. Moussaoui and to work with Moussaoui's lawyer to prepare his defense. The mother of Zacarias hopes she can meet her son as soon as possible."
Asked whether his client was innocent, Roux replied, "We don't say he's innocent."
He didn't elaborate, but instead said that Moussaoui deserves a fair trial.
"He has a right to have a trial," Roux said, adding that if Moussaoui is found guilty, "We don't want the death penalty."
During the news conference, in which Mrs. Moussaoui spoke in French, she said she was concerned that her son doesn't speak any English and cannot understand the charges against him, and she questioned whether he could get a fair trial in the United States. While she spoke, her voice broke with emotion as she wiped tears from her eyes with a white and green handkerchief.
"She's tired by a long trip and a long day," Roux said.
Meanwhile, lawyers for Court TV are asking for permission to broadcast Moussaoui's trial, saying rules that ban TV cameras in federal courtrooms are unconstitutional. Congress is considering legislation that would allow closed-circuit television coverage.
Moussaoui, a Frenchman of Moroccan descent, could get the death penalty if convicted of conspiring to carry out the terrorist attacks against New York and Washington.
He is charged with conspiring to commit acts of terrorism, aircraft piracy, destruction of aircraft, use of weapons of mass destruction, murder of U.S. employees and destruction of U.S. property. Four of the six charges could result in the death penalty and two carry a maximum of life in prison.
Foreign Ministry officials in Paris have assured Mrs. Moussaoui and Roux that French diplomats in Washington would be available to help her.
Bernard Valero, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, said Thursday that to his knowledge Moussaoui had still refused French consular protection. Moussaoui is entitled to change his mind at any time, Valero said.
By Jennifer Hoyt © MMI The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed