Second Circuit Reverses Yemeni Clerics' Terrorism Conviction

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed the terrorism convictions of Yemeni clerics Sheik Mohammed Ali Al-Moayad and Mohammed Mohsen Zayed.

The 68 page opinion is here (pdf).The Court said the defendants were prejudiced by the introduction of inflammatory evidence at trial.

The men were convicted in federal court in Brooklyn after a six-week trial in early 2005 on charges of conspiring to support al-Qaida and Hamas, supporting the Palestinian group and attempting to support al-Qaida. Their trial featured testimony by an FBI informant who set himself on fire outside the White House, saying he wanted more money from the FBI.

Al-Moayad, 60, was sentenced to 75 years in prison. Zayed, 34, was sentenced to 45 years.


The inflammatory testimony:

The appeals court said the defendants were prejudiced by testimony from a Scottish law student who told of a deadly suicide bombing on a bus in Tel Aviv and by an American citizen of Yemeni heritage who attended an al-Qaida training camp in Afghanistan in 2001.

It said testimony about the camp and particularly the government's presentation of images of Osama bin Laden and a top aide was "highly inflammatory and irrelevant and should not have been permitted by the district court."

Background on the case and informant Mohamed Alanssi, who set himself on fire because he believed the FBI wasn't providing properly for him, is here, here here and here. An early New York Times article on the trial is here.

The reaction of Jonathan Marks, one of the defense lawyers:

Zayed's trial attorney Jonathan Marks called the prosecution "a public-relations stunt by the Bush administration against people who were essentially innocent of the charges." Marks said his client was "completely innocent and before this was a staunch anti-terrorist.

The reversal may be too late to help Zayed, who has been imprisoned at Supermax in Florence, Colorado:

"I am told that he has lost his mind," Marks said. "This has been a terrible ordeal.

Shame on former Attorney General John Ashcroft and the entire Bush Administration. John McCain will be four more years of the same.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Torture (none / 0) (#1)
    by themomcat on Thu Oct 02, 2008 at 07:49:01 PM EST
    If they can't torture using illegal prisons and rendition, they use the justice system that they have corrupted. John Ashcroft is a sad man with no principals.

    "corrupted the district court" (none / 0) (#2)
    by diogenes on Thu Oct 02, 2008 at 11:11:59 PM EST
    Did Bush bribe the district court judge?  Is the same sort of judge is letting Ted Steven's trial go on only to see a conviction be thrown out on appeal?  Judges often favor the prosecution; it is irrational Bush-hate to attribute this only to Bush.