Seven years later, appeals continue for Aref and Hossain
December 4, 2013   By:    Legal, Legal Proceedings, Mohammed Hossain, Yassin Aref   Comments are off   //   316 Views

By: Bill Lambdin

ALBANY – Yassin Aref was the spiritual leader of an Albany mosque. Along with Mohammed Hossein, Aref was convicted in federal court in a conspiracy sting, involving secret evidence the defense was not allowed to see.

The arrest and trial was conducted while Americans were fighting and dying in Iraq.

But Yassin Aref was no fan of Saddam Hussein.

He was targeted by the FBI based on notebooks and other suspicious material captured in a Kurdish area of the Asian nation. It was an area that was largely independent and opposed to the Baghdad government. 

“We have even more basis for showing that that surveillance evidence was illegal and not only illegal but we believe it was false,” said Kathy Manley.

A dozen supporters sat behind appeals attorney. At her side was Albany Council member Dominick Calsolaro.

“We have people who were prosecuted based on evidence that the defense never got to see,” Colsalaro said.

Calsolaro is correct. There was evidence used at the Yassin Aref-Mohammed Hossain trial that was declared classified.

Judge McAvoy examined it in private, then told the jury there was good and sufficient reason for the government to target Aref.

The defense was not allowed to see the material, much less argue its merits in court or before the jury.

“We believe a lot of this classified evidence came about through the NSA warrantless wiretapping program and we were never able to get any of that evidence,” Manley said. “We were not even told by the courts that it existed in this case but we knew it did.”

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