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The vigil planned for Wednesday, April 28, noon - 1 p.m in front of the federal courthouse, Broadway, downtown Albany, in support of Fahad Hashmi and the opening of his trial, has been cancelled. Hashmi pleaded guilty earlier this evening to one count of material support, and there will be no trial. Sentencing is set for June 7. Here are links to articles about the plea.

Faisal Hashmi, Fahad's brother, will be on Democracy Now tomorrow to discuss the situation. You can check for updates at: http://freefahad.com

Thank you to everyone in MSC and Project SALAM who helped plan, and to everyone who planned to turn out for the vigil. More news will be posted as it is received.

US suspect pleads guilty to aiding Al-Qaeda

Published: Tuesday April 27, 2010

A US man pleaded guilty in New York Tuesday to aiding Al-Qaeda on the eve of the start of his controversial trial where an anonymous jury was to have decided his case.

Syed Hashmi, 30, "pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to provide material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization, namely Al-Qaeda," the US prosecutor's office in New York said.

The maximum penalty is 15 years prison and sentencing was scheduled for June 7. Under the plea agreement, prosecutors dropped other charges that collectively could have landed Hashmi in prison for 70 years.

Read more . . .

NYC student pleads guilty to terrorism charge

By LARRY NEUMEISTER, Associated Press Writer – Tue Apr 27, 7:32 pm ET

NEW YORK – On the eve of his terrorism trial, an American student who studied in London admitted Tuesday that he helped a friend deliver some protective clothing to an al-Qaida military commander fighting Americans in Afghanistan.
The plea by Syed Hashmi to a single count of conspiracy to provide material support to al-Qaida was entered in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, averting a trial that was supposed to begin Wednesday.

Read more . . .

Vigil At Federal Courthouse In Albany Will Mark Start Of Muslim Trial In New York City

Members of the Muslim Solidarity Committee and Project SALAM invite you to join us in a vigil for Fahad Hashmi in Albany, NY on Wednesday, April 28 from noon to 1:00 PM

Meet: Wednesday, April 28, 12:00 Noon to 1:00 PM
Where: Federal Court House, 445 Broadway, Albany, NY
Why: To bring attention to the government's outrageous violation of Fahad Hashmi's civil rights, especially in regard to the government scaring the jury.

The government has obtained the extraordinary measure of an anonymous jury. Such anonymity creates fear within the jury pool and enhances the prospect for conviction, even though there is no evidence that the jurors would be in any danger at all.

The government is also requesting extra security citing recent protest and support activity by supporters of Fahad Hashmi throughout the country.

We are outraged that The U.S. Attorney’s office has publicly suggested that legal protesters might “share the defendant’s violent radical Islamic leanings.” For more information, see http://freefahad.com

For our vigil, we will have signs, and some of us will wear paper grocery bags on our heads to represent the anonymous jurors.

For more information, see the press release below.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010
CONTACT: Lynne Jackson, (518) 434-6659, cell: (518) 366-7324

Vigil At Federal Courthouse In Albany Will Mark Start Of Muslim Trial In New York City

Fahad Hashmi

Albany, NY –– Area supporters of a young Muslim man who has been held in solitary confinement for three years in Manhattan will mark the beginning of his terrorism trial on Wednesday, April 28 from noon to 1 p.m. with a vigil and some sidewalk political theater in front of the federal courthouse on Broadway in downtown Albany.

Participants will respond to the recent public statement by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York that supporters of Syed Fahad Hashmi “…might share the defendant’s violent radical Islamic leanings.”

The U.S. Attorney has called for and received the extraordinary measure of an anonymous jury and extra security for Hashmi’s trial, which begins in New York City on Wednesday, based on recent increased support for him nationwide. The U.S. Attorney is attempting to target supporters and their legal right to free expression, create fear within the jury pool, enhance the prospect for conviction, and manipulate the fairness of the trial to overcome a glaring lack of evidence that Hashmi is guilty of any crime.

The Center for Constitutional Rights in New York City issued a strong statement on April 21: “The government is manipulating the fact that many individuals and human rights organizations are supporting Mr. Hashmi and raising important criticisms of his treatment in detention in order to gain a conviction. This is deplorable.” More at: http://ccrjustice.org/newsroom/press-releases/ccr-denounces-government-attempt-frighten-jury-nyc-trial-fahad-hashmi

Lynne Jackson, a spokeswoman for Albany-based Project SALAM (www.projectsalam.org), which follows preemptive prosecutions of Muslims nationwide and which is sponsoring the sidewalk vigil, said, “The reason the government claims anonymous jurors are needed is because Fahad Hashmi’s supporters might ‘share the defendant’s violent radical Islamic leanings.’ Do we look like violent radical Islamists? We support Fahad Hashmi’s constitutional right to a fair trial and to see all the evidence against him. Scaring the jurors with an anonymous jury denies Mr. Hashmi’s basic right to a fair trial.”

Fahad Hashmi has been held for 3 years in Manhattan in solitary confinement under conditions so harsh as to amount to torture. After this treatment, he may not be able mentally to adequately assist his lawyers in his defense. Hashmi was studying in England when an acquaintance asked if he could stay in his apartment for a few days. He left a bag of clothes there for a week. Later the clothes––socks and ponchos––were supposedly delivered by the visitor (a government informant) to a terrorist group. Much later, Hashmi was arrested, brought to the U.S., and charged with material support for terrorism––providing a place to store clothes for a week––even though there was no evidence that Hashmi knew where the bag of clothes was to be delivered or had any intent to assist terrorists. For more information, see http://freefahad.com

Material support for terrorism laws have been unlawfully used to criminalize activities that might help terrorism, even when the actors have no intention of helping terrorism. Such laws are constitutional only when they give adequate notice as to what actions are unlawful. The Hashmi case is one of the most extreme examples of the government’s overreach in the “war on terror,” although there are dozens of other examples of unjust prosecutions. #