Seattle Post-Intelligencer - Tuesday, March 22, 2005
Judge apologizes to ex-terror defendant
By Bree Fowler
DETROIT -- A federal judge apologized on behalf of the U.S. government Tuesday to a Moroccan immigrant who was tried on terrorism charges in a case marred by prosecutorial misconduct, including the withholding of evidence.
Judge Gerald Rosen's comments came during a hearing at which Ahmed Hannan pleaded guilty to unrelated insurance fraud charges. Rosen sentenced Hannan to six months in jail, with credit for the more than three years he already has served.
"I would be remiss if I did not say that some procedures that are normally followed in criminal cases were not followed in this case," Rosen said of the terrorism case, "and for that you have the apology of the United States government."
Hannan, 36, will be deported to Morocco by the end of the week, defense lawyer James Thomas said. As part of a plea agreement, the Detroit man waived any right to appeal deportation.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Straus declined to comment on Rosen's apology.
Hannan was released to a halfway house last year, but several months later was ordered jailed again because of conflicts with the house's staff.
He and three other immigrants had been accused of being part of a "sleeper" cell and charged with conspiracy to provide material support or resources to terrorists. The charges followed a raid on a Detroit apartment six days after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Karim Koubriti and Abdel-Ilah Elmardoudi were convicted in 2003 of conspiring to provide material support to terrorists. Hannan was acquitted of that charge but was convicted of document fraud. The fourth man was acquitted.
But in September 2004, three years after the men were first arrested and jailed, the U.S. attorney's office admitted widespread prosecutorial misconduct in the case, saying potentially exculpatory evidence was not shared with the defense.
At the government's request, Rosen dismissed the terrorism charges and ordered a new trial on the document fraud charges.