U.S. Denies Padilla Was Tortured

Federal prosecutors on Monday denied claims by suspected al Qaeda operative Jose Padilla that he was tortured during his 3½ years in military custody as an enemy combatant.

In papers filed in federal court, prosecutors said Padilla provided no evidence to back up his claims and urged that the case against him not be dismissed based on his allegations. They insisted that Padilla was treated humanely while in a Navy brig in South Carolina.

"Padilla's conditions of confinement were humane and designed to ensure his safety and security," the government said in its filing. "His basic needs were met in a conscientious manner."

That included halal food, some outdoor exercise and medical attention when necessary. Prosecutors said Padilla never made any abuse claims while in military custody.

"Padilla's allegations of torture have no merit whatsoever," prosecutors said.

Padilla's lawyers last month asked a federal judge to dismiss the terror support charges against him based on their allegations that he suffered from "outrageous government conduct" while in military custody for more than 1,300 days. They claimed Padilla's interrogators threatened to execute him, and forced him to wear a hood and stand in stress positions for long periods of time.

Padilla's attorneys also said he believed he may have been given LSD or PCP as a "truth serum," and that he was forced to endure extreme heat and cold, bright lights or total darkness, noxious fumes and sleep deprivation.

Padilla is now awaiting trial for terrorism conspiracy for allegedly participating in what the government calls a "North American support cell" that provided money, gear, and recruits, such as Padilla himself, to Muslim extremist groups to perpetrate violent acts overseas, CBS News reports. Padilla allegedly underwent military training at an al Qaeda camp in Afghanistan in 2000.

Padilla, a 36-year-old former Chicago gang member, was declared an enemy combatant by President Bush in June 2002, shortly after he was arrested at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. U.S. authorities initially claimed he was on an al Qaeda mission to detonate a radioactive "dirty bomb" in a U.S. city.

He was transferred to civilian custody in January to face federal terrorism support charges along with two others in Miami. Trial on those charges, which do not mention the "dirty bomb" allegations, is scheduled to begin Jan. 22.