[JURIST] AP is reporting that "dirty bomb" suspect Jose Padilla [JURIST news archive] has been indicted on criminal charges. Padilla has been in US custody for over three years on allegations that he was involved in an al Qaeda plot to detonate a radioactive "dirty bomb" in the US and his indefinite detention without charge has been the subject of extended litigation. In September, the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit denied Padilla's latest habeas appeal, ruling [PDF opinion; JURIST report] that the terror suspect could be detained without charges indefinitely. That decision has been appealed to the US Supreme Court [cert. petition, PDF; JURIST report], though the Court had not yet decided whether to hear the case. Last year, the high court dismissed Padilla's challenge to his indefinite detention in a 5-4 decision [text] because he brought it in the wrong court, but Padilla refiled the case [JURIST report].
10:20 AM ET - Padilla has been indicted on criminal charges in Miami, and US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is due to discuss the indictment, unsealed Tuesday, at a press conference later Tuesday. AP has more.
1:00 PM ET - A federal grand jury in Miami returned an 11-count indictment [PDF text] charging Padilla with conspiracy to murder US nationals, conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, and providing material support to terrorists. Four other defendants were also named in the indictment, including Canadian national Kassem Daher, and three others who have previously been charged with terrorism-related crimes - Adham Hassoun, Mohamed Youssef and Kifah Jayyousi. According to the indictment, the five defendants were part of a North American cell designed to send money and recruits to support overseas terror operations. The charges carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. Announcing the indictment [prepared remarks], Gonzales said that the Justice Department is able to prosecute the case due to provisions of the controversial USA PATRIOT Act, which allowed the increased sharing of information between different departments involved in the investigation. Read the DOJ press release.