‘Foreign governments can quiz Headley on U.S. soil’

With the U.S. government’s assurance that he will not be extradited to India or Pakistan, LeT operative David Coleman Headley has agreed to be “available” to foreign governments, such as India, who may “interview” him only on US soil.

Under the plea agreement that Headley, a Pakistani-origin American citizen, has entered into with the prosecutors for pleading guilty to 12 counts of terror charges, he cannot be extradited to India, Pakistan or Denmark if he pleads guilty or is convicted of the offences in the superseding indictment.

“Headley has agreed to not only continue his cooperation with the government, which he has been doing since October, but also to make himself available for interviews by other governments in this country. As part of his agreement, he has agreed to allow himself to be interviewed by foreign governments in this country,” Headley’s attorney John Theis told reporters after the hearing.

When asked, if this means that Indian investigators could come to US and talk to Headley, even about the Mumbai attacks, Mr. Theis said “Yes. If he refuses to talk to foreign governments here, it would mean a violation of the plea agreement“.

The plea agreement states that whenever directed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, “Headley must fully and truthfully participate in any debriefings for the purpose of gathering intelligence or national security information.”

The 49-year-old Pakistani-American had further agreed that, when directed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, he would fully and truthfully testify in any foreign judicial proceedings held in the U.S. by way of deposition, or video-conferencing.

Mr. Theis said Headley’s guilty plea is a “manifestation, one example of his regret and his remorse. His conduct contributed to the harm of many people“.

Since his arrest in October, Headley has been cooperating with the government and has provided substantial assistance in the investigation of this case as well as “critical” information regarding intelligence on other matters.

He said all the information that Headley has given to U.S. authorities is and has been shared with India and Denmark.

Through the 13 days that Headley “talked”, he was informed of his right to remain silent, of his right to counsel, that anything he said could and would be used against him.

“But he chose not to exercise those rights and in fact to provide timely, thorough, trustworthy and complete information,” his lawyer Robert Seeder added.

Mr. Seeder said the information provided by Headley has “significantly helped the United States and has also aided other countries”.

“His cooperation has potentially saved the lives of hundreds, if not thousands, of people and his cooperation is going to continue throughout the remainder of this case,” Mr. Theis said, adding Headley was never involved in any kind of plot involving U.S. soil or U.S. citizens, “not knowingly“.

The lawyers refused to comment on the issue of Headley, son of a former Pakistani diplomat and a Philadelphia socialite, being a double agent.

“There is nothing in the plea agreement about anything about that (his being a double agent). I don’t know where that kind of language comes from“.

On whether Headley would get a life sentence, Mr. Theis said the range of the sentence could be either life or any other sentence less than that as authorised by law.

“It is obviously a complicated case. Sentencing is up to the Judge. This case has a long way to go,” he added.

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