January 13, 2006

Lawyers seek to dismiss California terror case

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Lawyers for a Pakistani-American
charged with lying about his son's travels to Pakistan, where
U.S. prosecutors allege he trained in terrorist camps, sought
to dismiss the cases against both men on Friday because of
"outrageous" government conduct.

Hamid Hayat was indicted last year on a charge of
supporting terrorists. His father, Umer Hayat, was charged with
making a false statement to investigators about his son's
activities.

In a filing with the U.S. District Court in Sacramento on
Friday, defense lawyers said the case should be dismissed
because the government sought to improperly influence potential
jurors by spreading information about the case.

"The government's conduct, coupled with the widespread
national media attention this case has received, confirms that
the defendants could not have a fair trial with an impartial
jury anywhere in the United States," lawyers Wazhma Mojaddidi
and Johnny Griffin wrote.

U.S. officials arrested the defendants after the son
returned from Pakistan. Prosecutors alleged the younger Hayat
attended a terrorist training camp in Pakistan in 2003 and 2004
and trained to "commit jihad" in the United States.

"Their right to a fair trial has been jeopardized due to
the outrageous conduct of the government in this case in its
attempts to taint the prospective jury pool," the lawyers
wrote.

The filing said the release of information inadmissible in
court, such as the public release of results of a lie detector
test created "irreparable prejudice" against the defendants.

"The government is fully aware of the genuine fear that
United States citizens have of potential terrorist attacks
after the tragedy of September 11, 2001," the defense attorneys
wrote. "Considering such a climate, the government knew that
the public would form immediate biases against the defendants,
two Muslim men with beards who fit the common perception of
what a terrorist looks like."

The U.S. Attorney's office in Sacramento could not be
reached for comment after the filing was made just before the
close of business on Friday.

A hearing on the motions is set for February 3, and the
trial is also scheduled for next month.