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Attorney: FBI harassed Muhammad, prosecutors want gag order

An official with the embassy in Yemen says Adbulhakim Muhammad, 23, was not tortured while he was held in prison for overstaying his visa. That statement is in direction contrast to what his North Little Rock defense attorney said earlier this week.
An official with the embassy in Yemen says Adbulhakim Muhammad, 23, was not tortured while he was held in prison for overstaying his visa.  That statement is in direction contrast to what his North Little Rock defense attorney said earlier this week.

His attorney James Hensley says not only is the alleged torture of Muhammad in Yemen partly to blame for his violence on two U.S. Army soldiers, so is the FBI.

Abdulhakim Muhammad says he wants to speak out.  For now he's talking through his new lawyer James Hensley.  Hensley maintains his client was tortured in a prison in Yemen after overstaying his student visa to teach English to children in the impoverished nation.

The Yemen embassy Friday denied the claim saying no torture took place that radicalized Muhammad.

"First off, I did not know the Yemen embassy said anything like that,” Hensley tells FOX16 News.  “The evidence that I've received from my client, how would they know?  They weren't there first of all would be my response."

And according to Hensley, Muhammad is telling him prison torture wasn't his only problem in his thirteen months overseas.

"I did ask what were you afraid of?  What was your concern?” Hensley says, referring to his conversations with his client. 

“He said my concern was the FBI agent coming in over there (Yemen) and I thought would be there to help me,” Hensley says.  “He was there to torment me a little bit more, to explain that I was in trouble, I was going to be looked after, that I was going to be watched over.  And if I ever got out of here I’d have to be concerned with him.  That's what he said."

David Goins says: "So your client says an FBI agent harassed him in Yemen?"  James Hensley says: " Yeah and harassed him in Nashville."  Goins says: "Are you saying the FBI aggravated him to the point of acting out?"  James Hensley says: "That's what he would say.  That's what he told me.  Now, do we blame the FBI for this?  I don't think so."  Goins says: "That's why I asked."  Hensley says: "Let's be real.  The FBI in my view on this could have maybe handled it a little differently."

The FBI heard those claims.  Special Agent Thomas J. Browne with the Little Rock office responded.

"The FBI investigation of Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad is ongoing, and, as expected, reports continue about investigative developments and/or direction. In the interests of protecting the integrity of the ongoing investigation, including the privacy of individuals involved, we cannot respond to every reported development," Browne says.

Hensley says he’s still waiting on the police investigation to wrap up before he can decide what defense he will pursue, saying it’s still too early to decide if he will use an insanity defense.  He maintains something happened to his client during his incarceration in Yemen that changed him to the point of becoming radicalized.

"It probably doesn't make any excuse or reason.” Hensley says.  “He wants to address the public at some point, certainly talk with the media and I guess you can ask him how that happened."

Prosecuting attorney Larry Jegley sent a letter to Hensley Friday afternoon announcing his intentions to seek a gag order on Monday in the case.  Saying in his letter, he believed statements made by Hensley in the press could prejudice his client's ability to get a fair trial.
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