Ex-Army translator acquitted of working as Iraqi agent

January 15, 2011 03:07

DETROIT  — A jury on Friday acquitted a former military translator of secretly working as an Iraqi agent in the US but convicted him of making false statements when he sought a security clearance.

The split verdict offered some relief to Issam "Sam" Hamama, who claimed he was only passing along basic information about Iraqis in the US when he reached out to Iraqi officials in the 1990s during the regime of Saddam Hussein.

"We've been vindicated. They were accusing him of voluntarily working as a spy," defense lawyer Haytham Faraj said.

Hamama, 60, of El Cajon, California, was found not guilty of conspiring to work as an unregistered Iraqi agent. The government said it didn't know he had contacts with Iraqi officials in the 1990s until his name was discovered in documents seized during the war.

In recent years, Hamama worked as a translator for the US military in Iraq. He was convicted of making false statements to the FBI and on his application for a security clearance when he had denied having any contact with a foreign government.

Hamama said he didn't consider Iraq to be foreign because he's an Iraqi native. The former Detroit-area resident faces up to five years in federal prison.

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