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Former US prosecutor refuses to plead to obstruction charges from botched terror case

[JURIST] A US federal judge Friday entered not guilty pleas for former Assistant US Attorney Richard Convertino [Wikipedia profile] and US State Department Regional Secretary Officer Harry Raymond Smith III after they stood mute to charges of conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and making false declarations in connection with a botched 2003 Detroit trial of four men accused of terrorist activities. The men were later freed on $25,00 bail after being ordered to surrender their passports. The Detroit Free Press has more.

The arraignment followed press reports of a new FBI [official website] report that appears to have cast doubt on the recent indictments [PDF text; JURIST report] of the two men. The report is said to have found compelling similarities between satellite photos of a hospital in Jordan, which were withheld by the prosecution during the trial, and hand-drawn sketches found in the terror suspects' apartment, which were used as evidence in the terror trial. The US Department of Justice [official website] had alleged that the photographs disproved that the sketches were evidence of a terrorist plot and should have been turned over to the defendants; however, if the photos show a correlation with the sketches, the prosecution was under no obligation to turn them over.

In the 2003 terror trial, two of the defendants were convicted, only to have their sentences overturned [JURIST report] by the judge due to the allegations that the prosecution did not turn over the satellite photos alleged to be exculpatory by the DOJ to the defense. AP has more.

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