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US prosecutors close controversial terror case against Hamid Hayat

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Six months after a federal judge vacated the high-profile 2006 terrorism conviction against Hamid Hayat, prosecutors said Friday they will not pursue another trial against the Lodi, California resident.

Hamid Hayat was freed in August last after completing more than half his sentence on charges of providing material support to terrorists and lying to FBI agents.

"Due to the passage of time, the government now moves this court to dismiss, in the interest of justice, the indictments in this case," federal prosecutors said in a motion filed in U.S. District Court, in Sacramento.

The decision brings to a close the controversial prosecution of Hayat, who spent 14 years of a 24-year sentence in custody until U.S. District Judge Garland E. Burrell found last year that his trial lawyer had provided ineffective counsel and he should be released pending a decision by the government on whether to retry him, according to Sacramento Bee.

Hayat's high-profile case drew national media attention, while concerns were raised about the role that emotions and prejudice may have played during a period of heightened tensions.

After being locked up for more than 13 years in a Phoenix, Arizona prison, Hayat was released in August 2019 after an order was filed by Senior United States District Judge Garland Burrell Jr. on July 30, 2019, to vacate Hayat's conviction.

Judge Burrell was the original trial judge in the widely-criticized case that was recently highlighted in an episode of "Confession Tapes" on Netflix.

Controversial case

The Hayat case has been controversial from the start, when federal prosecutors announced they had broken up a terror cell in Lodi and arrested Hayat on terror charges and his father, Umer, an ice cream-truck driver, on charges of lying to the FBI.

In the post-9/11 atmosphere, the announcement sent shock waves through the Muslim community in Lodi and elsewhere, especially with allegations that Hamid Hayat, then 22, had allegedly taken part in explosives and weapons training that included using photos of President George W. Bush as targets.

Umer Hayat's jury could not reach a verdict in his case and he later pleaded guilty to a lesser charge and was sentenced to a 24-year jail term.

Hayat had been accused

Hayat had been accused of attending a terrorist training camp in Pakistan and planning to wage jihad on the United States.

Hayat, who was born in San Joaquin County in 1982, had visited Pakistan with his family in 2003 on what his lawyers say was a trip for his mother to receive medical treatment and to find a wife for him.

But Hayat had come to the attention of a paid government informant who can be heard on wiretaps urging Hayat to attend such a camp.

His appellate lawyers say that despite his confession, which came after hours of questioning by the FBI and is now the subject of a Netflix documentary, he never went to a camp. They also say the one he was alleged to have attended was not open at the time he was in Pakistan.

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
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