On Tuesday April 27, Fahad Hashmi took a government plea bargain. He pleaded guilty to 1 count of conspiracy for allowing an acquaintance to store waterproof socks, ponchos, and raincoats in his apartment. The government dropped the other 3 charges. Fahad made this decision after having served 3 long years in solitary confinement and one day after Judge Preska approved the government’s recent request for an anonymous jury with extra security measures. In addition to the use of secret evidence and indefinite solitary confinement in Fahad’s case, the move to have an anonymous jury raised already heightened concerns as to whether a fair trial was even possible. With sentencing to happen on June 7, Fahad faces a maximum of 15 years, as opposed to the 70 years he might have faced if he had been convicted on all 4 counts. With time already served (4 years total) and considerations for good behavior, Fahad could be out in less than 10 years. It is of note that on the eve of the trial the government was willing to shave 55 years off the potential sentence.
Today’s decision does not in any way detract from the importance of the work we’ve been doing and the civil rights and human rights issues that Fahad’s case has raised. The government’s use of Special Administrative Measures and the attacks on due process in “terrorism” cases like Fahad’s continue and cast a pall on the US justice system. For that reason, we plan to hold our usual vigil on Monday night outside the Metropolitan Correctional Center. We hope you will spread the word and join us.
We will be posting further thoughts and analysis on Fahad’s case and the attendant issues in the coming week.
N.B.: After the announcement below was published, Reuters reported that Fahad Hashmi pled guilty to “one count of material support to a foreign terrorist organization”: “Hashmi’s guilty plea was part of a last-minute deal with prosecutors in which he admitted to certain charges in exchange for three other counts being dropped, thus avoiding a trial and a possible 70-year sentence.” There will be no trial. Instead, a sentencing hearing is scheduled for the 7th of June.
Fahad Hashmi’s trial will begin on Wednesday, April 28, 2010, starting at 8:45 AM. Hashmi’s supporters are urging people in New York City to pack the courthouse at 500 Pearl Street in lower Manhattan to bear witness to the proceedings. The following video invite features Pulitzer Prize-winning author Chris Hedges, CUNY Political Science Professor Jeanne Theoharis, and others speaking out about his case.
“It is that vehicle of unconscious racism, which is always the flip side of nationalism, which is being used to strip us of our civil liberties, because, when we view American citizens of another color, another race, another ethnicity, another religion, as not fully American, or fully human, then we walk away from what is left of our anemic democracy and allow the power structure to strip these citizens of their rights.” — Chris Hedges