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Jose Padilla is sentenced to 17 years

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080122/ap_on_re_us/padilla_terror_charges;_ylt=AupfL5_U7AULZGNS6JDcVcOs0NUE Jose Padilla is sentenced to 17 years By CURT
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 22, 2008

      Jose Padilla is sentenced to 17 years
      By CURT ANDERSON, Associated Press Writer
      7 minutes ago

      MIAMI - Jose Padilla, once accused of plotting with
      al-Qaida to blow up a radioactive "dirty bomb," was
      sentenced Tuesday to 17 years and four months on
      terrorism conspiracy charges that don't mention those
      initial allegations.

      The sentence imposed by U.S. District Judge Marcia
      Cooke marks another step in the extraordinary personal
      and legal odyssey for the 37-year-old Muslim convert,
      a U.S. citizen who was held for 3 1/2 years as an
      enemy combatant after his 2002 arrest amid the "dirty
      bomb" allegations.

      Prosecutors had sought a life sentence, but Cook said
      she arrived at the 17-year sentence after considering
      the "harsh conditions" during Padilla's lengthy
      military detention at a Navy brig in South Carolina.

      "I do find that the conditions were so harsh for Mr.
      Padilla ... they warrant consideration in the
      sentencing in this case," the judge said. However, he
      did not get credit for time served.

      Padilla's lawyers claimed his treatment amounted to
      torture, which U.S. officials have repeatedly denied.
      His attorneys say he was forced to stand in painful
      stress positions, given LSD or other drugs as "truth
      serum," deprived of sleep and even a mattress for
      extended periods and subjected to loud noises, extreme
      heat and cold and noxious odors.

      Cooke also imposed prison terms on two other men of
      Middle Eastern origin who were convicted of conspiracy
      and material support charges along with Padilla in
      August. The three were part of a North American
      support cell for al-Qaida and other Islamic extremists
      around the world, prosecutors said.

      The jury was told that Padilla was recruited by
      Islamic extremists in the U.S. and filled out an
      application to attend an al-Qaida training camp in

      Cooke said that as serious as the conspiracy was,
      there was no evidence linking the men to specific acts
      of terrorism anywhere.

      "There is no evidence that these defendants personally
      maimed, kidnapped or killed anyone in the United
      States or elsewhere," she said.

      Padilla was added in 2005 to an existing Miami
      terrorism support case just as the U.S. Supreme Court
      was considering his challenge to President Bush's
      decision to hold him in custody indefinitely without
      charge. The "dirty bomb" charges were quietly
      discarded and were never part of the criminal case.

      Cooke sentenced Padilla's recruiter, 45-year-old Adham
      Amin Hassoun, to 15 years and eight months in prison
      and the third defendant, 46-year-old Kifah Wael
      Jayyousi, to 12 years and eight months. Jayyousi was a
      financier and propagandist for the cell that assisted
      Islamic extremists in Chechnya, Afghanistan, Somalia
      and elsewhere, according to trial testimony. Both also
      faced life in prison.

      Padilla's mother, Estela Lebron, smiled at reporters
      in the courtroom when the sentence was announced and
      questioned outside the courthouse whether the Bush
      administration had misplaced its priorities in
      prosecuting her son.

      "This is the way they are spending our money? Hello?"
      she said.

      But she was also pleased he didn't get the maximum
      sentence. "I feel good about everything. This is

      Attorneys for Hassoun and Jayyousi were also gratified
      but repeated that they will appeal their convictions
      and sentences, as will Padilla.

      "It is definitely a defeat for the government," said
      Hassoun lawyer Jeanne Baker.

      "The government has not made America any safer. It has
      just made America less free," said William Swor, who
      represents Jayyousi.

      The Justice Department praised prosecutors and
      investigators in the long-running case.

      "Thanks to their efforts, the defendants' North
      American support cell has been dismantled and can no
      longer send money and jihadist recruits to conflicts
      overseas," Kenneth L. Wainstein, assistant attorney
      general for national security, said in a statement.

      The men were convicted after a three-month trial based
      on tens of thousands of FBI telephone intercepts
      collected over an eight-year investigation and a form
      Padilla filled out in 2000 to attend an al-Qaida
      training camp in Afghanistan. Padilla, a former
      Chicago gang member with a long criminal record,
      converted to Islam in prison and was recruited by
      Hassoun while attending a mosque in suburban Sunrise.

      Padilla sought a sentence of no more than 10 years.
      Hassoun asked for 15 years or less and Jayyousi for no
      more than five years.

      Padilla's arrest was initially portrayed by the Bush
      administration as an important victory in the months
      immediately after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks,
      and later was seen as a symbol of the administration's
      zeal to prevent homegrown terrorism.

      Civil liberties groups and Padilla's lawyers called
      his detention unconstitutional for someone born in
      this country.

      Jurors in the criminal case never heard Padilla's full
      history, which according to U.S. officials included a
      graduation from the al-Qaida terror camp, a plot to
      detonate the "dirty bomb" and a plot to fill
      apartments with natural gas and blow them up. Much of
      what Padilla supposedly told interrogators during his
      long detention as an enemy combatant could not be used
      in court because he had no access to a lawyer and was
      not read his constitutional rights.

      Attorneys for Hassoun and Jayyousi argued that any
      assistance they provided overseas was for peaceful
      purposes and to help persecuted Muslims in violent
      countries. But FBI agents testified that their
      charitable work was a cover for violent jihad, which
      they frequently discussed in code using words such as
      "tourism" and "football."
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