CHICAGO, April 14 (IANS): Lawyers of Pakistani Canadian terror suspect Tahawwur Hussain Rana have denied his "knowing involvement" of the Pakistani government and its spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in the November 2008 Mumbai terror attack.
The denial came two days after media reports citing court documents suggested that by way of his defence Rana had admitted to providing "material support" to the 26/11 terrorists at the behest of Islamabad and the ISI and not at the bidding of Pakistan-based terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).
"Contrary to recent reports, Tahawwur Rana has neither admitted nor confessed to any knowing involvement in the tragic events in Mumbai of November 2008," his attorneys Patrick W. Blegen and Charles D. Swift said in a brief statement.
"He (Rana) maintains his position that he has never knowingly provided support to any terrorist organization, designated or otherwise," the statement said.
"Likewise, Rana's defence has not been undermined by the recent ruling granting the United States government's motion that Rana may not rely on the defence of public authority for any assistance that he might have provided to Pakistan's ISI," it said.
"The ISI was not and is not designated as a terrorist organization. Indeed, the charges against Rana do not include providing material support to ISI," Rana's attorneys said.
Rana's attorneys also indicated that they have not yet been contacted by Indian authorities for access to the terror suspect as suggested in media reports. Rana, 49, is accused of helping co-accusd Pakistani American David Headley, a US citizen, by providing a cover for his trips to Mumbai for scouting targets for the attack.
Headley, who has confessed to his role in the attacks, is likely to testify as a witness at Rana's trial scheduled to begin May 16.
Rana was indicted by a federal grand jury under 12 counts Feb 15 last year for his role in planning the attacks and providing material support to LeT.
Son of a Pakistani father and an American mother, Headley had changed his given name of Daood Sayed Gilani two years before the attacks to avoid being being identified as a Muslim of Pakistani origin.
Rana, who had served as a doctor in the Pakistani Army Medical Corps, before he migrated to Canada, is also accused of plotting an attack with Headley on Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten that published cartoons of Prophet Muhammad.