Fight for HLF5’s Freedom Enters Next Phase

DALLAS– June 13, 2014 — Last week, attorney Gary Udashen filed a response to the prosecutors’ opposition to the motion to vacate the sentences of the Holy Land Foundation defendants Abdulrahman Odeh, Mufid Abdulqader, Ghassan Elashi, Mohammad El-Mezain, and Shukri Abu Baker (Case No. 3:04-CR-00240-P).

In the response, Udashen argues that “All the evidence which the government relied on to argue that the Zakat Committees were controlled by Hamas came from persons who had no real factual knowledge of the operation of the Zakat Committee” and that the government witnesses “presented no evidence by which a rational juror would have found that the crucial element of control was established.”

The response also raises the issue of new evidence that establishes “beyond any question” the fact that the Zakat Committees were not controlled by Hamas – the sole basis of the prosecution’s argument during trial. The attorneys are also asking for an evidentiary hearing in October to give time for Zakat Committee board members to arrange for travel to the U.S. to give depositions.

“This response, along with the original motion, establishes undeniable evidence that the prosecution of these upstanding community members is a grave injustice that our nation’s courts must correct,” said Khalil Meek, executive director of the Muslim Legal Fund of America. “These five men should have received awards for their generosity and humanitarian work, not prison sentences.”

On May 27, 2009, U.S. Federal Judge Jorge Solis sentenced the five defendants, who were between 49 and 55 years old at the time of sentencing, to prison terms ranging from 15 to 65 years.

The Muslim Legal Fund of America (MLFA) is a national charity that funds legal work and programs to defend Muslims against injustice in American courtrooms, prisons, and communities. MLFA safeguards the U.S. Bill of Rights and the integrity of the American justice system by supporting legal cases involving civil liberty encroachments. Established in 2001, MLFA has defended freedom of speech, freedom of religion, right to a fair trial, due process of law and many of our nation’s civil liberties.