Southern District Judge Lewis Kaplan (See Profile) will hold a hearing into whether the lawyer for a man accused in the al Qaeda African embassy bombing plot is conflicted because his client’s defense is being funded by the Libyan government.
Kaplan wants to make sure defendant Ana al-Liby is aware that attorney Bernard Kleinman has a potential conflict and is willing to make a knowing waiver of that conflict following an Aug. 14 hearing.
At an appearance Wednesday, Kaplan questioned Kleinman to determine whether a so-called Curcio hearing was necessary, with the judge saying at one point “circumstances reveal there is at least a potential conflict of interest here.”
Kleinman said he was paid a retainer when he was hired last October to represent al-Liby, but he does not discuss strategy with the four individuals who retained him and who pay his bills on a regular basis.
Although it has been reported that the Libyan government, angered at al-Liby being abducted in Tripoli in 2013 and taken to the United States for trial, has promised to pay for the defense, that was not stated in open court yesterday. Instead, at Kaplan’s instruction, Kleinman wrote on a piece of paper the name of the government entity that was paying him and handed it to the judge.
Al-Liby appeared via video hookup from the Federal Medical Center in Butner, N.C., where he is being treated for what Kleinman said in a letter to the judge last week was a “terminal medical condition.”
In that letter, Kleinman also said prosecutors tried nine months ago to get him off the case because he has represented imprisoned top terrorist Ramzi Yousef, but have since abandoned that effort and have now “opted to focus solely upon the issue of an alleged ‘third-party fee arrangement.’”