The 12 Libyans arrested after occupying their country's student aid office in McLean last week have broken their silence, privately revealing their identities to a Fairfax County judge who agreed yesterday to withhold their names for at least 24 hours.
The judge's action angered a lawyer for the Libyan government, who accused American authorities of giving special treatment to the students and charged that the CIA and FBI may have played a role in the takeover.
"I have a strong suspicion this is being orchestrated by the CIA and the FBI," said lawyer Richard C. Shadyac in an interview after the ruling.
Shadyac said he believes that the United States government is out to "destroy Libya's reputation" and that Fairfax General District Judge Frank B. Perry's "outrageous" ruling yesterday supports his belief.
Spokesmen for both the CIA and FBI denied the lawyer's charges that their agencies were involved in the takeover. "That's ridiculous," said CIA spokeswoman Kate Hall.
But Shadyac, who previously had supported the actions that police took during the nine-hour siege of the Libyan building on Wednesday, argued yesterday that the 12 demonstrators had caused $250,000 worth of damage, including destruction of all of the center's files and damage to a computer, typewriter, microwave oven and furnishings during the takeover.
"Why are these common criminals being given special attention?" Shadyac demanded. He added that if the men were "so worried about their anonymity, then why the hell did they do this?"
Fairfax Prosecutor Robert F. Horan said the 12 had disclosed their names over the weekend to authorities, who had been identifying them as "John Doe 1" through "John Doe 12." The men are charged with abducting three employes during the occupation of the People's Committee for Students of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Inc., an organization that distributes money to Libyan students in the United States.
"John Doe 11," who served as the group's spokesman, yesterday asked Judge Perry to withhold their names, saying that disclosure could endanger the lives of their families and friends.
Perry agreed to keep the names secret for 24 hours to give the court time to find out if it had the authority under Virginia law to withhold such information from the public.
"I'm not aware of any provision of Virginia law that permits that," Horan said in an interview. He said that once someone is served with and advised of a charge, that case is part of the public record.
The 12 men claimed that the center served as a front for terrorist activities against critics of Libyan leader Col. Muammar Qaddafi, a charge that Shadyac denied again yesterday.
"I challenge anyone to show me one scintilla of evidence of that," the lawyer said.
Judge Perry's action follows a decision last year by a Manhattan Criminal Court judge, who agreed to keep private the names of 40 Libyan protesters who had occupied the Libyan mission to the United Nations for about three hours.
Four of the 12 arrested in McLean were involved in the New York incident. Their bond in the Fairfax case was set at $30,000 yesterday. Bond for the other eight was set at $15,000.
"John Doe 11" told the court that the 12 men are endeavoring to hire an attorney for the entire group, information the court had been unable to elicit last week.
Eight of the 12 protesters are undergraduate students and two are graduate students, according to Horan. He said that the other two are unemployed, although one is a recent graduate.
One of the men is from Alexandria, three are from California, three from Wisconsin, three from Mississippi and two from Florida, according to Horan.