Rana, a key accused in the 26/11 terror attack, has been declared fugitive in India. His extradition hearing is scheduled for February 12

The US government has opposed the release of the key accused of the 26/11 terror attacks Tahawwur Rana describing him as a flight risk.

The Pakistani-origin Canadian businessman was rearrested in Los Angeles based on an extradition request by India for his involvement in the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks. He had then been prematurely released from the US federal prison, where he was serving a sentence for conspiracy to attack Danish newspaper Jylland Posten’s office in Denmark.

Rana, a childhood friend of David Headley, is a declared fugitive in India. His extradition hearing is scheduled for February 12.

In a motion filed before the US District Court Judge in Los Angeles Jacqueline Chelonian on Monday, US attorney Nicola T Hanna urged the court to deny Rana's motion for release for failure to prove that he is not a flight risk or that special circumstances exist and continue to detain him pending resolution of this extradition proceeding.

The US attorney said a fugitive facing extradition is entitled to bail only if he can demonstrate that he is not a flight risk, is not a danger to the community, and that special circumstances warrant his release from custody, as per a news agency report carried by The Economic Times.

In his court filing, Rana has said the Bureau of Prison (BOP) was unable to manage the COVID-19 pandemic and as such he should be released from custody. Hanna argued that BOP is committed to fighting COVID-19 and protecting the inmates in its custody.

"In addition to ignoring the BOP's ability to manage the pandemic, Rana ignores the significant increase of COVID-19 cases in the population in which he wishes to be released," the report quoted Hanna as saying.

Rana had owned the Mumbai terror attacks and wanted a medal for his performance, according to the court filing by Hanna quoted by an NDTV report.

"Referring to a 1971 attack on his school in Pakistan, Headley told Rana that he believed he was ''even with the Indians now''. In response, Rana said that they (the Indian people) deserved it. Also, in September 2009, the FBI intercepted Rana telling Headley that the nine LeT attackers who had been killed during the attacks should be given Pakistan's highest military honor," Hanna said in his court papers as per the report.

Hanna had also alleged that Rana was in touch with Headley’s contacts in Pakistan since 2009. He further said that Rana let Headley use his business as a cover to travel to India and conduct surveillance.

In denying Rana's initial motion for release in July, the court had said he constituted a flight risk given his significant foreign contacts and the possibility he could face a death sentence in India.

The court further found that this extreme risk of the flight was not mitigated by the approximately USD 1.5 million of property and cash offered by Rana's associates, as per the report.