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Yemeni cleric convicted of aiding Hamas to be released on plea bargain

[JURIST] A Yemeni cleric and his assistant pleaded guilty Friday to conspiring to provide financial support for Hamas and were sentenced to time served by the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York [official website]. After the plea deal, Sheikh Mohammed Ali Hassan al-Moayad [advocacy website] and assistant Mohammed Zayed will be released and returned to Yemen. In October 2008, the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit [official website] ordered [JURIST report] a new trial for the Yemeni cleric and his assistant after overturning their convictions based on errors in evidence that may have deprived the defendants of a fair trial.

Al-Moayad and Zayed had been convicted [JURIST report] in March 2005 on charges that they led a terror-funding network based in Brooklyn, NY. Al-Moayad was sentenced to 75 years in prison with a fine of $1.25 million and Zayed to 45 years. Al-Moayad and Zayed were arrested in Germany in 2003 after telling a federal agent posing as a US businessman that they would help him funnel money to militants. Al-Moayad was later extradited to the US where he was acquitted of actually funding al Qaeda, but was found guilty of providing material support and resources to Hamas.

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