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U.S. Snooping Gives Convicted Jihadist Retrial

BROOKLYN (CN) - A federal judge Thursday vowed to "push" the retrial of a Brooklyn man convicted of planning to fly to the Middle East and carry out jihad - but who won a new trial when the judge learned that information authorities got on him before his arrest amounted to a "warrantless wiretap."

"The public interest is especially important," U.S. District Judge John Gleeson said during a status hearing for Agran Hasbajrami, 28, who is also an Albanian citizen.

"You know I'm going to push the case, harder than I would have in 2011."

Government's attorney Seth DuCharme and Hasbajrami's attorney Steve Zissou are fighting over release of information authorities obtained before Hasbajrami pleaded guilty in April 2012 .

But Gleeson was unsympathetic.

"Let's get this case rolling," he said. "You all know me, I'm very reasonable."

Hasbajrami bought a one-way ticket to fly to the Federally Administered Tribal Area of Pakistan to "fight violent jihad" in September 2011, but was nabbed by the FBI as he was boarding a plane at John F. Kennedy Airport, the Justice Department said.

In email exchanges in early 2011 with a person in Pakistan who identified himself as a member of an armed group, Hasbajrami said that he wanted to travel abroad to "marry with the girls in paradise," the Justice Department said.

After his arrest, a search of his Brooklyn apartment turned up a note stating: "Do not wait for invasion, the time is martyrdom time."

Hasbajrami pleaded guilty in April 2012 to providing material support to terrorists, and Gleeson gave him 15 years - the maximum.

But then it was discovered that the government's surveillance before his intended departure was carried on without warrants, prompting Gleeson to allow Hasbajrami to withdraw his guilty plea.

"I conclude that he was not sufficiently informed about the facts," the judge wrote this month.

Against his attorneys' advice, Hasbajrami withdrew his guilty plea .

Hasbajrami stood in blue prison scrubs and sported a long black beard while an interpreter translated the proceedings into Tosk.

His attorneys wanted 60 days to file papers concerning the surveillance gathered, but a terse Gleeson responded: "That's too long. You have to get to work to file those motions."

Defendants' motions are due Nov. 26; the government's are due Dec. 24.

Oral arguments are set to begin Jan. 23, 2015.

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