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22/11/2012: PH Officials Get Access to Detained Filipino Terror Plot Suspect in California

22 November 2012

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Consular officials were able to visit the 23-year-old Filipino immigrant being held in California for his alleged involvement in a plot to mount terrorist attacks that reportedly included targets in the Philippines.

Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. said the Philippine Consulate General in Los Angeles had been given consular access to suspect Ralph Kenneth C. De Leon at a detention facility in San Bernardino County late Wednesday afternoon.

De Leon and three other suspects were arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on Sunday and later charged in connection with an alleged plot to join the al-Qaeda and the Taliban and launch attacks against American targets in Afghanistan, Palestine and the Philippines.

“The Embassy and the Consulate General in Los Angeles are working closely with American authorities to get more information about the reported terrorist plot and to ensure that the rights of Mr. De Leon, a Philippine national, are protected,” Ambassador Cuisia said.

Consul General Hellen Barber-Dela Vega confirmed that De Leon, who migrated to the United States in 2003, is still a Philippine citizen and the holder of a valid Philippine passport.

Consul General Dela Vega said Consul Charmaine Serna-Chua went to the San Bernardino Sheriff Central Detention Center and was able to check De Leon’s physical condition. She said De Leon appeared well despite being held in solitary confinement.  Consul Chua was also able to talk by phone to De Leon’s father and court-appointed lawyer.

According to Consul General Dela Vega, De Leon, along with Miguel Santana, Arifeen Gojali and Sohiel Kabir, are facing charges of Conspiring to Provide Material Support and Resource to Terrorists in violation of Section 2339A, Title 18 of the US Code. She said the preliminary hearing on the case is scheduled on 3 December.

Ambassador Cusia said the Embassy is hoping to receive more details about the reported terrorist plot from the FBI, particularly the plans of the suspects to mount attacks against US targets in the Philippines.

On Wednesday, Police Attache Chief Supt. Armando Ramolete, requested the FBI to provide the Embassy with additional information about the terrorist plot. ###