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Pakistani Court Convicts Five Americans Of Terrorism


Pakistani police escorted the U.S. defendants as they arrived at an antiterrorism court in Sargodha in February.

Pakistani police escorted the U.S. defendants as they arrived at an antiterrorism court in Sargodha in February.

A Pakistani court today sentenced five Americans for criminal conspiracy and raising funds for a banned terrorist organization.

The court in the central city of Sargodha found the five guilty of contacting militants via e-mail and plotting attacks in Pakistan and elsewhere.

Rana Bakhtiar, the deputy prosecutor-general representing the Punjab provincial government in the case, said each received two prison terms to be served concurrently.

The five Americans -- all Muslims in their 20s -- were acquitted of three other charges.

Umar Farooq, Waqar Hussain, Rami Zamzam, Ahmad Abdullah Mini, and Amman Hassan Yammer have been on trial since March at a closed-door counterterrorism court in Sargodha.

They were detained in the city in December, days after they arrived in Pakistan. They disappeared from the U.S. state of Virginia in November.

Two of the five are of Pakistani origin. The others are from Egyptian, Yemeni, and Eritrean descent.

Prosecutors said e-mails showed they contacted militants who had planned to use them for attacks in Pakistan.

All five denied the accusations, saying they only wanted to travel on to Afghanistan to do humanitarian work.

They accused the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Pakistani police of trying to frame them and torturing them. Officials have denied the accusations.

Both the defense and the prosecution vowed to appeal the verdict.

U.S. officials have made few public comments about the trial. The Associated Press news agency quoted U.S. Embassy spokesman Richard Snelsire as saying today that the United States respects the decision of the Pakistani courts.

written by Antoine Blua, with contributions from RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal and agency reports
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