US man convicted of Al-Qaeda support says his free speech was violated
BOSTON (REUTERS) - Lawyers for a Massachusetts man convicted a year and a half ago of conspiring to support Al-Qaeda have claimed that prosecutors prejudiced the jury with videos of beheadings and that the judge who sentenced him violated his right to free speech.
Tarek Mehanna was found guilty in December 2011 on seven counts that included providing material support to terrorists, conspiracy to kill in a foreign country and lying to law enforcement officers.
He was sentenced by United States (US) District Judge George O'Toole in April, 2012 to 17 1/2 years in prison.
Mehanna's appeal began on Tuesday, with his attorneys charging that his conviction and sentencing were the result of"overwhelming prejudice" stemming from evidence that included videos of beheadings. Their client, they argued, had merely watched the videos years earlier.