Wednesday, September 27, 2023
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Judge Frees Man Jailed for Aiding Muslim Fighters

EUGENE, Ore. (CN) - A federal judge ordered the release of an Oregon man whom a jury found guilty of funneling money to Muslim fighters in Chechnya, as allegations of government misconduct have brought that conviction under scrutiny.

U.S. District Judge Michael Hogan granted Pete Seda's motion for release on Wednesday while his lawyers argue for acquittal or a new trial. Prosecutors had reportedly admitted that, in a "regrettable late disclosure of information," they failed to report a $14,500 payment from the FBI to the husband of a witness who testified against Seda. The FBI also offered to pay the witness, according to Seda's Jan. 12 motion.

Defense attorneys for Seda say that the witness in question was the only tie directly linking their client to the conspiracy charges.

The Iranian-born Seda, also known as Pirouz Sedaghaty, was found guilty on Sept. 9 of conspiracy to defraud the government and filing a false tax return to conceal that he allegedly smuggled $150,000 into Saudi Arabia through an Islamic charity to aid the Chechen fighters.

Seda must wear a GPS device while freed and cannot leave his residence. Both sides have 30 days to file briefs as to potential issues of double jeopardy, and the government in that time will respond to Seda's motion for a new trial. Oral arguments are scheduled to begin on March 1 in connection to Seda's discovery motion.

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