Islamic Human Rights Commission
15 October 2008
FORWARDED PRESS RELEASE: USA – Local community leader sentence in terrorism case
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 14, 2008
LOS ANGELES – A federal court today sentenced Seyed Mousavi — a respected local community leader — before a packed courtroom to 33 months in prison for filing false tax returns, omitting group membership on naturalization forms, and violating the U.S. economic embargo against Iran. Though the government asked for a 9 year sentence, the Court was compelled by the myriad of evidence in Mousavi\\\’s favor and ultimately sentenced him to less than one-third of the government\\\’s request. From community members to concerned law students, there has been an outpouring of support for Mousavi in what has become an extremely politicized trial.
On June 29, 2006, the FBI raided Mousavi\\\’s home, business and place of worship at gunpoint in the early morning hours, handcuffing family members and carting off boxes of documents and computers. More than a year later, Mousavi was arrested in his mosque despite assurance from the government that he would be allowed to turn himself in if they decided to charge him. On April 24, 2008, Mousavi — father of two UCLA students — was convicted of filing false tax returns, omitting group membership on naturalization forms, and violating the U.S. economic embargo against Iran. His lawyer failed to present evidence in his defense.
Though not charged with or convicted of acts of terrorism, the government attempted to paint Mousavi with the broad brush of \\\”terrorist.\\\” The prosecution invoked unsubstantiated assertions, xenophobia and \\\”secret evidence\\\” of terrorism early-on in the case. As a result, Mousavi sat in jail without bail for over one year on these non-violent charges. At a hearing last week attended by 120 supporters, a new defense team presented substantial evidence of Mousavi\\\’s innocence but was denied a motion for a new trial.
For over 20 years, Mousavi has contributed to the well-being of the Muslim community in
Southern California. He is the founder of Al-Nabi Mosque and School in West Covina which has built bridges across religious divides. Under Mousavi\\\’s leadership, Al-Nabi Mosque has developed English curriculum for recent immigrants, recognized the unique issues facing American-Muslim youth, and preached the virtue of inclusion and acceptance. In addition to teaching in the school, Mousavi serves as a mentor for youth. More than 100 community members have written letters in Mousavi\\\’s defense.
\\\”Our family has been through so much since this ordeal began. We watched as our house was raided, as the FBI handcuffed my teenage brother, and then as my dad got taken away. My dad\\\’s such an important part of our family. We\\\’re happy to know that the court saw how good and giving of a man my dad is, but it will be hard to be without him for another year and a half,\\\” said Zeinab Mousavi, Mr. Mousavi\\\’s daughter.
The government claimed that Mousavi broke the embargo against Iran. Mousavi is alleged to have engaged in a consulting contract with a Kuwaiti company to bring cellular telephone networks to Iran. However, the sentence requested by the government far exceeded what it has uniformly agreed to even for corporations which provided overtly military related products. The court recognized that the government grossly misrepresented Mousavi and as a result sentenced him to only 33 months.
The government also claimed Mousavi was a member of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, though both the government of Iran and several experts deny this. The U.S. claimed that because Mousavi failed to disclose this and other alleged affiliations on his immigration documents, his American citizenship should be revoked. However, experts have disputed the charge of omission, stating that none of Mousavi\\\’s alleged affiliations would be considered \\\”memberships\\\” of a nature that requires disclosure on immigration applications. Despite this, the Court has imposed denaturalization as part of Mousavi\\\’s sentence.
\\\”Now that all the evidence has come out and experts from USC, UCLA and the University of Tehran have reviewed the case, it is quite clear that the case presented by the government to the jury misrepresented the events underlying Mr. Mousavi\\\’s convictions,\\\” said Ronald Kaye, defense attorney on the case. \\\”We are very pleased that the Court recognized the good works of Mr. Mousavi and did not follow the harsh sentence requested by the government. The Court and the Southern Californian community now know that Mr. Mousavi has dedicated his life to education and to emphasizing the importance of peace and non-violence in the Muslim community. He did not represent a threat to the United States whatsoever.\\\”
The family plans to appeal all charges.
For more information on Mousavi\\\’s case, including court filings, letters of support and the online petition, please visit www.freeseyedmousavi.com.
For more information on this press release, please contact Ronald Kaye of Kaye, McLane & Bednarski on (+1) (626) 844-7660 firstname.lastname@example.org, or the IHRC Press Office on (+44) 20 8904 4222 or (+44) 7958 607475 email email@example.com.[ENDS]
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