Handing the government a stinging defeat, a Boise, Idaho, jury acquitted a Saudi graduate student on Thursday of charges that he had used his computer expertise to help Muslim terrorists raise money and recruit followers, The New York Times reports in a story by the Associated Press.
“I hope the message is that the First Amendment is important and meaningful in this country,” said David Nevin, a lawyer for the student, Sami Omar Al-Hussayen. The case against Mr. Al-Hussayen, 34, a Ph.D. candidate in computer science at the University of Idaho, was seen as an important test of a provision of a new antiterrorism law that makes it a crime to provide expert advice or assistance to terrorists. Mr. Al-Hussayen set up and ran Web sites that prosecutors said were used to recruit terrorists, raise money and disseminate inflammatory rhetoric. They said the sites included religious edicts justifying suicide bombings and an invitation to contribute money to the militant Palestinian organization Hamas. Mr. Nevin said Mr. Al-Hussayen had little to do with creating the material posted, which he argued was protected by the First Amendment right to freedom of expression and was not intended to raise money or recruit extremists.