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Charged, Tried, and Acquitted, but Still Guilty

Reported by Melanie - June 16, 2004 -

Last week, after a seven week jury trial, a 32 year old Idaho man was aquitted of three counts of terrorism, charges brought by the US government under the "Patriot Act." The man, Sami Omar Al-Hassayen, was charged with giving "expert guidance or assistance" to terrorists, as well as a number of lesser charges. The manner in which Linda Vester presented this story to the audience spoke of her politics.

Al-Hussayen was arrested in February, 2003. Al-Hussayen was the webmaster for at least one group whose site carried links to other sites which advocated some very, very bad acts.

Al-Hussayen's lawyers called only one witness on his behalf. That witness, a retired CIA operative named Frank Anderson, remarked after the acquittal: "I am embarrassed and ashamed that our government has kept a decent and innocent man in jail for a very long time." (DemocracyNow.org.) (Al-Hassayen remains jailed on the lesser charges.)

The case is extremely complicated but lots of information about it can be found on the web.

At l:3l p.m. ET today, Vester introduced Al-Hassayen's lawyer, David Nevin, to discuss the case. During the course of the interview, Vester, appearing to be an advocate on behalf of the government, enumerated several things the government accused Al-Hassayen of doing, including supporting "various terrorist organizations." Nevin was given an opportunity to talk but Vester's questions were so stacked against him, and the details of the case far too complicated for a three minute interview, that Nevin's answers, unfortunately, didn't shed much light on the facts.

Nonetheless, Vester succeeded in painting a picture of a terrible man (a terrorist, as Vester painted him), who got off scott free and who the government must now retry. The audience was very much on her side, given their extraordinarily limited information.

COMMENT: In my opinion, the important points are: The trial lasted seven weeks. The defense put on one witness. Al-Hassayen was acquitted. Given these facts alone, it sounds like the government's case must have been extraordinarily weak. Maybe this man isn't a terrorist after all!