American prosecutors end high-profile terrorism case against California man

One of the United States’ highest profile post-9/11 terrorism cases fully unraveled Friday, with federal prosecutors saying they won’t pursue charges after a judge last year overturned the conviction of a man who had been linked to a purported al-Qaida sleeper cell in California and spent 14 years in prison.

Hamid Hayat, a cherry picker from the community of Lodi in the Central Valley agricultural heartland, was freed in August after completing more than half his sentence on charges of providing material support to terrorists and lying to FBI agents.

A federal judge in July overturned his 2006 conviction on charges of plotting an attack in the United States after attending a terrorist training camp in Pakistan. The judge ruled that Hayat, who proclaimed his innocence, hadn’t received a proper defence at trial.

Hayat’s family and new legal team, led by the law firm of Riordan & Horgan, said in a statement that the case is “a stark example of how, in the post 9/11 era, the government’s effort to protect the public from terrorism could and did in this case go terribly wrong.”

Prosecutors could have appealed the judge’s decision or sought a new trial, but instead filed a brief motion to dismiss the case Friday.

“We have determined that the passage of time and the interests of justice counsel against resurrecting this 15 year old case,” they said in a statement.

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