A former Florida professor was acquitted on a key charge Tuesday that he helped lead a Palestinian terrorist group that has carried out suicide bombings against Israel.
In one of the biggest courtroom tests yet of the Patriot Act's expanded search and surveillance powers, the federal jury acquitted Sami Al-Arian on eight of the 17 counts against him. The jury deadlocked on the others.
Al-Arian, a former University of South Florida computer engineering professor, wept after the verdicts and his attorney, Linda Moreno hugged him. He will go back to jail until prosecutors decide whether retry him on the deadlocked charges.
Co-defendants Sameeh Hammoudeh and Ghassan Zayed Ballut were acquitted of all charges against them.
Another, Hatem Naji Fariz, was found not guilty on 24 counts and jurors deadlocked on the remaining eight.