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Eye On Boise

Free speech or terrorism?

In explosive arguments in court this morning, prosecutors charged that Sami Al-Hussayen schemed to help broadcast an incendiary speech on the Palestinian Intifada by controversial Saudi Sheikh Safar Al-Hawali on the Internet, thereby proving that he was helping terrorists with recruitment and fundraising. They said they have intercepted messages in which Al-Hussayen sought to set up the broadcast in a way that would make it unconnected to the Islamic Assembly of North America.

"The evidence shows how he deceitfully facilitated the broadcast of this particular lecture, knowing that it was forbidden, sensitive,'' Assistant U.S. Attorney Kim Lindquist told the court. "This evidence shows compellingly and firmly that the defendant did believe in this despicable stuff, he had his hands on this despicable stuff. ... He had knowledge of it and he intended it."

Lindquist said the lecture - which he wants admitted as evidence - "goes to the very heart of what the defendant is being charged with."

Defense attorney David Nevin responded that Al-Hussayen's role in broadcasting the controversial lecture is no different than CNN's broadcast of an interview with Osama bin Laden.

"This is not about recruitment and funding. This is the government saying, 'You may not say these things,' " Nevin told the court. "You're a terrorist if you express these views. You're a terrorist if you help somebody else express these views."

The First Amendment doesn't allow that, Nevin argued. "They want to say, 'Here's what the defendant thinks, so convict him, because these are bad thoughts.' "

The judge reserved his ruling on whether to allow the lecture as evidence. Prosecutors want to introduce it to the jury this afternoon.

Eye On Boise

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