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Three defense attorneys in a Miami terrorism case who were trapped in Beirut by the conflict between Israel and Lebanon have been evacuated safely to Cyprus. Miami Assistant Federal Public Defender Orlando do Campo and two private lawyers, William Swor of Detroit and Andrew Patel of New York, traveled to Lebanon about three weeks ago. They were there to do research and take depositions in preparation for the scheduled federal trial in September of accused dirty bomber Jose Padilla and four other defendants before U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke. The lawyers were stuck at a Beirut hotel, according to Swor’s secretary. They had departed for Beirut on July 2 and were supposed to return on July 14. But war broke out July 12 when Israel began its campaign to recover two kidnapped Israeli soldiers. Israel bombed the airport, trapping the lawyers and thousands of other Americans and Europeans in Lebanon. The lawyers had no choice but to stay on at the hotel while the U.S. and other governments made plans to evacuate their citizens. While he was trapped at the hotel, Swor sent daily e-mail updates to a list of colleagues from his laptop computer. A local lawyer who was on the e-mail list described some of Swor’s dispatches. “Day 1: We’re sipping pina coladas by the pool. The staff is wonderful. Day 2: We’ve moved into one room. The French got out. This is like Hurricane Katrina all over again — Bush can’t seem to coordinate these things.” At one point, Swor was at a local church while a priest was praying and a bomb went off nearby. The priest didn’t pause, he just prayed faster, Swor reported. Do Campo and Patel represent Padilla. Swor represents Kifah Jayyousi. Padilla, Jayyousi and Adham Hassoun — along with two co-defendants who are in the Middle East and will be tried in absentia — are charged with conspiring to commit terrorism and funding terrorist groups in Bosnia and the Middle East. All have pleaded not guilty. The three attorneys were rescued Wednesday and put on a cruise ship chartered for the rescue effort. They were taken to nearby Cyprus. From there they are expected to fly back to the United States. Sources said the three men may have been rescued by the Swedish government, along with a group of Swedes who also were trapped at the hotel. Two other lawyers, Kenneth Swartz and Jeanne Baker of Miami, who represent Hassoun, had been planning on traveling to the Middle East to interview their client’s wife and other witnesses next month. But they’ve canceled their trip because of the war. Israel’s campaign has mainly been targeted at wiping out the military capabilities of the Islamic fundamentalist group Hezbollah, which carried out a cross-border attack in which it killed eight Israeli soldiers and kidnapped two. Baker said she was not certain yet how essential it is to her case to travel to the Middle East, and whether she and Swartz will seek a trial postponement as a result. “My client has been sitting in pretrial detention for a long time so I don’t know that we want to delay things any more,” she said. “But we have to put the trip on ice for now.” Neither Federal Public Defender Kathleen Williams nor Deputy Federal Public Defender Michael Caruso in Miami returned calls for comment. But according to several sources, the office was worried about their colleague trapped in a war zone. Alicia Valle, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, declined to say whether federal prosecutors also will travel to the Middle East to build their case. U.S. Marines went into Lebanon Wednesday to begin the rescue effort. The U.S. government chartered the Greek-flagged cruise ship Orient Queen, which it used to transfer about 1,100 evacuees to Cyprus. The effort continued Thursday. The State Department estimates that there are 25,000 Americans in Lebanon, but it is unclear how many want to evacuate.

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