Prosecutors defend Islamic charity case conviction

Federal prosecutors acknowledged that the government blundered in the prosecution of Pete Seda, an Oregon man convicted of helping to smuggle money through an Islamic charity, but said Friday that the errors weren’t serious enough for a new trial. Court documents filed late Friday contain the government’s first accounting for its failure to tell defense lawyers for Seda that the FBI paid a Southern Oregon man for information and discussed paying the informant’s wife, who was a witness against Seda.

Seda, born in Iran, is a U.S. citizen convicted in September of tax fraud and conspiracy. He was accused of helping to smuggle $150,000 out of the country 11 years ago through the arm of the Al-Haramain charity he operated in Ashland—the charity was declared a terrorist organization by the government. The government said the money was meant for Muslims fighting the Russians in Chechnya.

Islamic Charity Co-Founder Released

Pirouz Sedaghaty, co-founder of the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, was just released from the Lane County Jail in Eugene, Oregon. He is awaiting trial on federal tax and conspiracy charges. In 2004, a federal grand jury indicted him and the Oregon chapter of the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation on charges of smuggling $150,000 to Muslim fighters in Chechnya. William Call reports.