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US man admits helping al-Qaeda
He faces 15 years in jail for sending socks and sleeping bags to Afghanistan fighters.
Last Modified: 28 Apr 2010 11:45 GMT
Human rights activists have been critical of Hashmi's treatment, Kristin Saloomey reports

A US man faces up to 15 years in prison after admitting to sending waterproof socks, ponchos and sleeping bags to al-Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan.

On the eve of his trial, Syed Hashmi, 30, pleaded guilty to conspiring to provide support to al-Qaeda in a district court in New York on Tuesday.

His plea was part of a last minute deal with prosecutors in exchange for three other counts being dropped.

The prosecution and the defence both recommended a maximum prison term of 15 years.

Hashmi, a Pakistan-born US citizen, had faced up to 70 years in prison if convicted of four criminal counts.

"We were terribly concerned our man was throwing away his life," said David Ruhnke, Hashmi's lawyer.

"He's made the best deal that was available under the circumstances."

Three years in solitary

Hashmi told Loretta Preska, a US district judge, that between January 2004 and May 2006, he helped Junaid Babar, a friend from Queens, New York, transport the protective equipment to fighters.

Hashmi, a student, lent Babar $300 and stored the materials in his apartment. He was arrested at Heathrow airport in Britain in June 2006 under an extradition request by US authorities.

He arrived in the United States in May 2007, having spent almost a year in detention.

Family, friends and rights groups say the US government prosecuted Hashimi because he was outspoken against US policies in the Middle East.

Rights groups have also been critical of Hashmi's conditions of imprisonment, where for almost three years he has been in solitary confinement with 23-hour-a-day lockdowns, constant video surveillance and almost no visitors.

Hashmi will be sentenced on June 7.

Source:
Agencies
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