Many bloggers and the press have reposted Tarek Mehanna’s impassioned speech to the court as he was sentenced to 17-1/2 years for supposedly providing “material support” to terrorists. (See here, here, here, and especially the ACLU’s Nancy Murray’s widely quoted article at the Boston Globe here.) But few have commented on Mehanna’s charges that he was set up by an undercover agent to participate in a terrorist plot, and that he refused the agent’s overtures.
These are the relevant portions of Mehanna’s statement at his sentencing hearing (bold emphases added):
Exactly four years ago this month I was finishing my work shift at a local hospital. As I was walking to my car I was approached by two federal agents. They said that I had a choice to make: I could do things the easy way, or I could do them the hard way. The “easy“ way, as they explained, was that I would become an informant for the government, and if I did so I would never see the inside of a courtroom or a prison cell. As for the hard way, this is it. Here I am, having spent the majority of the four years since then in a solitary cell the size of a small closet, in which I am locked down for 23 hours each day. The FBI and these prosecutors worked very hard — and the government spent millions of tax dollars — to put me in that cell, keep me there, put me on trial, and finally to have me stand here before you today to be sentenced to even more time in a cell….
It was made crystal clear at trial that I never, ever plotted to “kill Americans” at shopping malls or whatever the story was. The government’s own witnesses contradicted this claim, and we put expert after expert up on that stand, who spent hours dissecting my every written word, who explained my beliefs. Further, when I was free, the government sent an undercover agent to prod me into one of their little “terror plots,” but I refused to participate. Mysteriously, however, the jury never heard this.
The Telegram and Gazette described the uproar in the courtroom when Mehanna brought up the accusations regarding the undercover agent’s attempt to recruit him into a terrorist plot.
After Mr. Mehanna said the government had sent an undercover agent to prod him into participating in a terror plot — that he refused — Mr. Chakravarty rose to call that “categorically false.” Mr. Mehanna yelled to him that “you’re a liar.”
Two U.S. marshals strode to Mr. Mehanna seated at the defense table in an orange prison jump suit, put a hand on him and spoke to him, but Judge O’Toole did not allow Mr. Chakravarty to continue.
What actually lie behind these accusations, the prosecutor’s interruption, and the Judge’s subsequent actions? (O’Toole later chided Mehanna for “lack of remorse” and “a quality of defiance.”)
The answer can be found in a February 25 posting by Mehanna at the Facebook page, “Free Tarek Mehanna.” While one can easily find online the young man’s stirring defense of himself in his April 12 sentencing statement, his statement about the attempt to frame him as part of a government-inspired terrorist “plot,” has virtually escaped coverage outside of some small blogs concerned with defending Islamic or Palestinian causes and defense (with the one notable exception of Richard Hugus at Boston IndyMedia). Read the rest of this entry →