Jason Fong, a Chinese-American who had recently reverted to Islam, was charged by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California with four counts of Material Support of Terrorism. These charges stemmed from a sting operation by the FBI that began shortly after Fong’s conversion to Islam, alleging that Fong shared military manuals copied from White Nationalist postings on his Signal chat group, as well as expressing support for Hamas. Each count risked a maximum sentence of 20 years.
The Muslim Legal Fund of America (MLFA) legal team took on Fong’s case due to serious constitutional issues regarding free speech and concerns over the discriminatory prosecution of Muslim Americans.
MLFA’s attorneys forced the government to reveal information about their tactics used by undercover operatives, including targeting a Muslim child both online and in person. The first trial ended in mistrial and before the second trial started the government withdrew their primary informant as a witness.
The government offered to dismiss all four charges against Mr. Fong in exchange for a plea guilty to making a false statement to the FBI which Mr. Fong accepted, thereby reducing his potential sentence from 80 years to 8 years (MLFA will argue for a much lower sentence at sentencing).
This outcome is a victory for Mr. Fong and for the Muslim Community as it prevents further erosion of rights for Muslim Americans and sets precedent regarding ability to confront undercover informants regarding their backgrounds and tactics.