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Never suggested Rana is Gandhi, says lawyer

December 16, 2009 15:33 IST

Terror suspect Tahawwur Rana's lawyer said on Wednesday that he had never suggested that "Rana is Gandhi", a day after US prosecutors here claimed that the Pakistani-Canadian's beliefs were "akin" to those of non-violence advocated by Mahatma Gandhi.

"I have never suggested he (Rana) is Gandhi. I think they (prosecutors) just misunderstood what I said," Rana's attorney Patrick Blegen said after the terror suspect was denied bail by a federal court in Chicago. At the outset of the hearing, Blegen argued that the prosecution mistook the reference he had made to Gandhi in Rana's previous bail hearing and wrongly stated that "Rana is no Gandhi" in the government memo filed on Tuesday.

During Rana's December 2 bail hearing, Blegen had said his client was a member of the Iqbal Society, named after Pakistan's poet-philosopher, that exhorted Muslims around the world to be educated and organised people and to reach their goals through non-violent, peaceful and constitutional means. Seeking to get his client released on bail, Blegen had made a reference to the Iqbal Society as he tried to portray Rana as a non-violent person. Rana has been charged in a terror plot against a Danish newspaper that published cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.

"I had mentioned Rana's membership in the Iqbal society. When it was first presented to me, I did not know who Iqbal Mohammed was and I don't think the judge did either. "So I likened it to being in a Gandhi society. They (prosecutors) spoke about it a little more than I think they should have," Blegen said. Rana has even gone so far as to claim to this Court that his beliefs are "akin" to those of Gandhi.

"Rana was told of the (Mumbai) attacks before they happened and offered compliments and congratulations to those who carried them out afterwards. It is quite clear that Rana is no Gandhi," the memo seeking Rana's detention, pending trial, said. The prosecutors also alleged that Rana's statements in his conversation with US citizen David Coleman Headley, charged with conspiring in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, are "grossly inconsistent with both his portrayal that his beliefs are consistent with Gandhi and his claim that he was unwitting of Headley's activities".

Yoshita Singh in Chicago
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