Holy Land Foundation Defendants Seek Appeal of Habeas Decision

DALLAS – August 10, 2015 – The attorney for five defendants in the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development habeas petition is pushing for a review of new evidence that he says proves the defendants’ innocence (Criminal Case No. 3:04-CR-00240-P).

Attorney wants to present new evidence he says proves innocence

Attorney Gary Udashen filed an Application for Certificate of Appealability and a 56-page supporting brief last week to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division, for defendants Abdulrahman Odeh (Case No. 3:13-CV-04299-P), Mufid Abdulqader (Case No. 3:13-CV-04300-P), Ghassan Elashi (Case No. 3:13-CV-04301-P), Mohammad El-Mezain (Case No. 3:13-CV-04302-P) and Shukri Abu Baker (Case No. 3:13-CV-04303-P) – all of who were convicted of providing material support to Hamas as a result of the food, clothing, school supplies and medical care they distributed to needy Palestinian children.

In the brief, Udashen argued that “the district court could not legitimately and fairly decide” on his clients’ constitutional claims without an evidentiary hearing and that the court “inadequately and improperly” addressed those claims. He argues that the government’s case hinged on proving that Hamas controlled charitable committees in Palestine that distributed humanitarian aid to the needy, but that neither the government nor the defense provided a single witness with direct connections to these committees who was qualified to testify to the veracity of the government’s claim.

Udashen is seeking an evidentiary hearing to present affidavits and witness testimony from multiple individuals who worked for the charitable committees in Palestine. These witnesses claim in written testimonies that the charitable committees were independent of Hamas or other entities. In the supporting brief, Udashen also stressed that the government conceded in trial that HLF did not funnel money to Hamas.

Representatives from Muslim Legal Fund of America, a national charitable civil liberties legal fund, said that justice cannot be served without considering the new evidence.

“If multiple witnesses come forward with testimonies that proves a convicted person’s innocence, it is only fair and just that the court review this evidence and give the accused a chance to argue his case,” said Khalil Meek, Executive Director of MLFA. “If law matters, if justice matters, the HLF Five will get a new day in court.”

Meek said that the conviction of the HLF defendants was a grave miscarriage of justice that needs correction because the errors made during trial could eventually impact the legal rights of all Americans, not just Muslims.

Udashen said he expects the court’s decision on his clients’ application to take several months.

MLFA supported the defense of the HLF defendants for both trials, appeals and habeas petition and is currently supporting their new bid for appeal. Meek said anyone interested in supporting justice for the HLF Five can donate online at https://www.mlfa.org/donate.

Muslim Legal Fund of America (MLFA) is a national civil liberties legal fund that defends the U.S. Bill of Rights 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. To learn more about MLFA, visit https://www.mlfa.org.