The Bush administration has refused to allow the Spanish authorities to interview a man accused of being an operative of Al Qaeda whose testimony could be crucial to the prosecution of two men on trial here charged with helping to plan the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Spanish officials say.Liberals are probably still wondering why bin al-Shibh hasn't been tried, or produced as a witness. It probably has not occurred to them that bin al-Shibh might lie to get his coconspirators off. He might say where he is being detained so that al Qaeda counld mount an operation to get him out. He might signal other terrorist to make an attack. Little good could come from his testimony and many bad things could happen such as disclosure of interrigation techniques used to get informationout of him which would make it easier for other al Qaeda leaders to avoid giving information to the US.
With little more than a month left in the trial, the chief prosecutor in the case said he was still pressing the request to interview the accused man, Ramzi bin al-Shibh, who is suspected of playing a central role in organizing the attacks.
The two defendants, Imad Eddin Barakat Yarkas and Driss Chebli, are charged with arranging a meeting in Spain in July 2001, for Mr. bin al-Shibh and Mohamed Atta, one of the Sept. 11 hijackers, as part of the final preparations for the attacks.
"An interview with bin al-Shibh could change everything," Pedro Rubira, the chief prosecutor in the case, said in a recent interview. "He is very important for knowing what happened at that meeting."
In March 2004, the refusal of the United States to allow German lawyers to interview a Qaeda suspect, widely believed to be Mr. bin al-Shibh, led a German court to overturn the conviction of Mounir el-Motassadeq, a Moroccan who had been found guilty of involvement in the Sept. 11 attacks.
The court said the American refusal had denied a fair trial to Mr. Motassadeq, who is being retried in Hamburg.