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Eye On Boise

No decision yet on charges

The U.S. Attorney’s office in Boise hasn’t reached a decision yet on whether to retry Sami Al-Hussayen on eight remaining immigration charges, and announced this morning that a decision likely will take “a little more time, a few more days.”

Al-Hussayen, a University of Idaho graduate student, was acquitted of three terrorism charges and three immigration charges after an eight-week trial that drew national attention. The jury deadlocked on eight more immigration charges, all of which are similar to the three the jurors cleared him on, and a mistrial was declared on those charges.

The Saudi student, who had nearly earned his doctorate in computer science when he was arrested last year, was the first person charged with providing material support to terrorists by operating Web sites. He also was the first person charged with visa fraud for engaging in out-of-class activities after certifying that he was coming to this country “solely” to study.

Al-Hussayen, former president of the UI’s Muslim Students Association, maintained his innocence, and his attorneys argued successfully that the Islamic web sites he helped maintain were merely religious and analytical sites, and not terrorist tools.

Al-Hussayen, 34, has been jailed since his February 2003 arrest. He remains in jail now, awaiting the prosecutors’ decision on whether to try him again on the remaining visa fraud and false statement charges, or drop them. Once that’s decided, the graduate student faces a deportation order, which he’s appealed.

Eye On Boise

News, happenings and more from the Idaho Legislature and the state capital.