A 60-year-old publisher of Palestinian origin was arrested at his Chicago home on Wednesday and charged with providing information to Iraq's intelligence agency about Saddam Hussein’s foes.
Khaled Abdel-Latif Dumeisi, who has been in the United States for about 10 years, was described in an affidavit as an unregistered agent for the deposed Saddam Hussein government who reported on Iraqi exile leaders and provided press identification cards for Iraqi intelligence officers.
In one case, the affidavit alleged Dumeisi was trained by the Iraqi intelligence agency, known as the Mukhabbarat, to use a pen with a hidden camera and microphone, which he later used to record an interview with an unnamed member of the Iraqi opposition.
Dumeisi was charged with acting as a foreign agent, which carries a maximum 10-year prison term, and conspiracy, which carries a potential five-year term. He could also be fined $250,000 on each count if convicted.
"While Khaled Dumeisi is not alleged to be an actual intelligence officer and is not charged with espionage, the charges are nonetheless serious," Patrick Fitzgerald, the US Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, said in a statement.
According to the criminal complaint, four FBI informants provided information about Dumeisi, who was also known as "Sirhan" and "Abu Walid." In addition, a dossier seized in April from an Iraqi intelligence service safe house in Baghdad reports on activities by an agent or asset code-named Sirhan.
Dumeisi was accused of interacting with at least four Iraqi intelligence officers, one of whom was expelled in June 2002 for spying on the US.
FBI agents searched Dumeisi's home in early May, discovering what it said was a rudimentary code system inside an old calendar. For instance, if he felt threatened by Iraqi opposition members, he would relay that his car was inoperable, the government affidavit said.
He also allegedly provided Iraqi intelligence officers with press cards, which they could use instead of their diplomatic identification to attend events. In 1991, Iraq's UN diplomats were restricted to travelling within New York City's five boroughs, and were routinely barred from attending certain events.
In Chicago, Dumeisi was president of Around-the-World News Inc., which he established in 1998 to print and distribute periodicals in Arabic and English, including Al-Mahjar, an Arabic language monthly, the government said.
Palestinian-born Dumeisi was a Jordanian citizen. He was a permanent resident alien in the US. Dumeisi applied for US citizenship in December 2001, but was turned down for failing to provide documents requested by immigration officials, according to the complaint.