PH envoys visit Filipino held in US terror plot
MANILA, Philippines—Philippine consular officials were able to visit the 23-year-old Filipino immigrant detained in California for his alleged involvement in a plot to mount terrorist attacks that reportedly included targets in the Philippines.
In a statement, Ambassador Jose Cuisia Jr. said the Philippine consulate general in Los Angeles had been given consular access to suspect Ralph Kenneth de Leon at a detention facility in San Bernardino County late Wednesday afternoon.
Cuisia quoted Consul General Hellen Barber-Dela Vega confirming that De Leon, who migrated to the United States in 2003, was still a Philippine citizen and a holder of a valid Philippine passport.
De Leon and three other suspects were arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation on Sunday and later charged in connection with an alleged plot to join the al-Qaida network and the Taliban, and then 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,” Cuisia said.
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.
Chua was also able to talk by phone to De Leon’s father and court-appointed lawyer.
According to 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 was set on Dec. 3.