Terror suspect Tahawwur Hussain Rana, under investigation for possible links to 26/11, has categorically denied any involvement in the Mumbai attacks, his lawyer said on Monday and asserted that the Pakistani-Canadian "harbours no ill-will" against Indians.
The statement was the first response from Rana's side after suspicions arose that he and US citizen David Coleman Headley, arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for plotting attacks in India at the behest of Lashkar-e-Tayiba, could have links to the Mumbai terror strikes.
"Mr Rana categorically denies involvement in the tragic events in Mumbai of November 26, 2008," Rana's lawyer Patrick Blegen said in a statement in Chicago.
"He harbours no ill-will against the people of India and continues to have close family ties to the country. In recent years, Mr Rana's career has been geared toward assisting members of the Hindu and other communities to become legalised and established in the United States and Canada," he said.
While US authorities have accused Rana and Headley of plotting attacks in India and Denmark, Indian officials are investigating their involvement in 26/11 attacks. However, so far there has been no evidence in this regard.
President Barrack Obama is despatching a high-level FBI team to India in a week to share "all details" of its probe into the plans and network of Headley and Rana, National Security Adviser M K Narayanan said on Sunday.
Rana's bail hearing is scheduled for December 2, when he would offer more than a million dollars in bond security.
Blegen said witnesses would testify about Rana's clean record and reputation as a businessman as the defence seeks to free him from jail. "They will testify he is not a risk of flight, has ties to the community, that he is regarded as an honest and a trustworthy businessman and has no record whatsoever," the lawyer said.
"Mr Rana has worked hard and travelled extensively to attempt to build his business. The Indian communities in Chicago, New York and Toronto are a testament to his hard work," the statement said.
A city resident for the last 10 years, Rana owns an immigration business that has offices in Mumbai.He also owns a slaughterhouse near here and a grocery store on the city's predominantly Indian-Pakistani neighbourhood Devon Avenue.