Defense Attorney: Accused Terrorist Questioned for 10 Hours Before Being Read Rights - NBC Chicago
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Defense Attorney: Accused Terrorist Questioned for 10 Hours Before Being Read Rights

Based on newly public FBI documents, a clearer picture is forming of Mohammed Hamza Khan and what happened when federal agents questioned him

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    A defense attorney says Mohammed Hamza Khan was held for roughly 10 hours before he was read his Miranda Rights. NBC Chicago's Tammy Leitner reports. (Published Tuesday, April 21, 2015)

    When a Chicago-area teen was taken into custody on terrorism charges, FBI agents talked to him for hours – on topics ranging from the Chicago Bulls, to girls, religion, his family and a selfie he once took with Kim Kardashian.

    Based on newly public FBI documents, a clearer picture is forming of Mohammed Hamza Khan and what happened when federal agents allegedly questioned Khan for roughly 10 hours before reading him his Miranda rights and formally arresting him.

    In U.S. District Court, Attorney Thomas Durkin filed four motions, including one that asks the charges against his client be dismissed. 

    "He's fine in the sense that he's adjusting to being in jail, which is part of the problem. That's what I'm most fearful of, is that's not where he belongs," Durkin told reporters.

    Durkin argues Khan planned to go to Turkey and then to Syria for religious reasons rather than to become a terrorist.

    For months, agents had been monitoring 19-year-old Mohammed Hamza Khan’s e-mails and texts. They believed the Bolingbrook teen would eventually head to Syria with the intention of joining the terrorist group ISIS.

    And so when Khan and his younger brother and sister showed up at O’Hare’s International terminal on October 4 for a flight to Istanbul, agents moved in. According to court records, it was just before 2:30 p.m. Customs and Border Protection agents pulled the Khan siblings out of line and talked to the threesome.

    Roughly 10 minutes later, FBI agents handcuffed Khan and took him to an FBI interrogation room in Terminal One.

    "He was interviewed in a room with a variety of video recording equipment," said Christopher Grohman, one of the attorneys representing Khan.

    Court records indicate agents questioned the teen for about three hours and then took him back to Terminal Five – where his flight had already departed.

    "If he truly wasn’t under arrest and he was free to leave they would have said Mr. Khan you are free to go," said Grohman. "But they didn’t. The FBI led him on that he truly wasn’t under arrest, that his father was going to come to get him even though he’s a legal adult – when that was just a ruse."

    FBI records show agents took the teen to a McDonald’s inside the airport. He ordered an apple pie and a coke. Agents chatted with Khan four about five hours. The casual conversation ranged from school, to his love of the Chicago Bears and "the most famous person he ever met."

    Khan told agents that he had suspected for the last couple weeks that he “was under surveillance by the Government" because "he heard a clicking noise on his telephone and believed his phone was being tapped."

    Khan was told his parents would be arriving at the airport soon and was then taken back to Terminal One for more questioning.

    "He was in the constant presence of at least three federal agents at all times," said Grohman.

    Defense attorneys are asking that all Khan’s statements to FBI agents up to this point be suppressed.

    The younger Khan siblings -- who had been questioned separately at the airport -- were allowed to leave with their father at 10:15 p.m. Mohammed Khan was not allowed to leave.

    "After 10 hours of questioning they finally gave him his Miranda rights and interviewed him for an additional hour," said Grohman.

    The judge scheduled a June 25 hearing to rule on the motions.

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