US Judge Releases Ex-Osama bin Laden Henchman Early Because of COVID
Concerns about his health led to the early release of a former top member of the terrorist network headed by Osama bin Laden.
The New York Post reported Friday that Adel Abdel Bary, 60, left behind a New Jersey prison where he had spent 21 years on Oct. 9.
Bary is now in London, where, according to The Sun, he has been reunited with his wife and is living in an apartment worth $1.3 million.
He had been imprisoned for his role in the 1998 al-Qaida attacks on two U.S. embassies in Africa. The bombings killed 224 people, including 12 Americans.
Bary publicly claimed responsibility for the attacks on behalf of al-Qaida. Some of the others involved, including bin Laden, have been killed, while others are serving life sentences.
But Bary’s lawyer said all that was in the past this fall as he argued the terrorist should be released early because of his health and COVID-19 concerns.
“Mr. Bary’s continued incarceration now significantly increases his risk of infection, which could wreak disastrous health outcomes,” the lawyer wrote.
Prosecutors said the 230-pound Bary’s body mass index of 36 made them willing to agree, according to the Post.
“The defendant’s obesity is an extraordinary and compelling reason that could justify a reduction of his sentence in light of the current pandemic,” they wrote.
U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan granted Bary’s early release.
“Defendant’s obesity and somewhat advanced age make COVID-19 significantly more risky to him than to the average person,” Kaplan wrote.
Bary would have been freed Oct. 28 without the court action, according to the Post.
Ex-Bin Laden henchman freed from NJ prison after judge deems him too fat for jail https://t.co/VFYXDkAoAK pic.twitter.com/9eGcOFwXFs
— New York Post (@nypost) December 11, 2020
He fled his native Egypt in 1991 and was granted asylum by Britain in 1997. According to The Sun, Bary would be at risk of death or torture if he returned to Egypt.
The outlet quoted a “security source” as saying Britain was not pleased to host the terrorist.
“His return remains a huge headache for the Home Secretary. She is intent on ridding the country of threats, but here’s a notorious terrorist dumped right on her doorstep,” The Sun quoted the source as saying.
Bin Laden’s pal freed from US prison and back in Britain because he’s too fat https://t.co/X7hXLJdolR
— The Sun (@TheSun) December 10, 2020
Edith Bartley, who lost her father and a brother in the bombings, was also irritated by the fact that Bary is now walking free.
“Just serving a sentence doesn’t mean that a person has been rehabilitated, doesn’t mean that their core thinking has changed,” she said, according to The New York Times. “This is a person who can still do harm in the world.”
But some said the system is what it is.
“Not everyone who is convicted of a terrible crime spends life in prison,” Nicholas J. Lewin, a former assistant U.S. attorney who helped prosecute Bary, told The Times. “People are released upon finishing their sentence. It’s fundamental to our system of justice.”
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