Accused Underpants Bomber Tells Judge He Can’t Get Fair Trial in Michigan

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the man accused of the 2009 Christmas day attempt to blow up a Northwest Airlines plane with explosives hidden in his underpants, asked to have his trial moved out of the state of Michigan.

Abdulmutallab, 24, said in a filing yesterday in federal court in Detroit that there has been an extensive amount of pretrial publicity, including coverage of all pretrial hearings, in local media that has created hostility toward him in Michigan and preconceived notions of guilt.

He faces eight criminal counts, including conspiracy to commit an act of terrorism, attempted murder and attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction. The indictment also says he has ties to the al-Qaeda terrorist network. He has pleaded not guilty and faces a possible life sentence if convicted.

Northwest Airlines Flight 253, carrying 279 passengers and 11 crew, originated in Amsterdam and was approaching Detroit Dec. 25, 2009, when Abdulmutallab tried to detonate the explosives, according to prosecutors. He set fire to his clothes and a wall before passengers subdued him, prosecutors said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Martin in Detroit didn’t immediately return a call to his office after regular business hours yesterday.

The case is U.S. v. Abdulmutallab, 10-cr-20005, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan (Detroit).

To contact the reporter on this story: Edvard Pettersson in Los Angeles at epettersson@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net

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