DALLAS — Feb. 14, 2014 — Representatives at Muslim Legal Fund of America are saddened by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision to affirm Ziyad Yaghi’s conviction in United States of America v. Ziyad Yaghi (Appeal # 12-4063), in which appellate attorney Robert Boyle says Yaghi was convicted based solely on First Amendment activities.
Appellate court ignores key points in appeal and reaffirms convictions, says attorney.
Boyle said that the court failed to address the key issues raised in the appeal and seemed to move the law farther away from liberty in the security versus liberty debate.
“They avoided the legal issues, but what I find particularly disturbing is the undercurrent of Islamophobia in the decision,” Boyle said. “The court endorses the use of broad conspiracy laws to ensnare Muslim youth who are targeted and then prosecuted for debating issues affecting Muslims worldwide. Debates and political speech are activities that have long been held to be protected by the First Amendment and essential to our democracy.”
Khalil Meek, Executive Director of MLFA, said that the court’s decision is a step back in America’s commitment to freedom of speech.
“Just as we saw in the Sami Alarian case, prosecutors are now going after law-abiding community members for prosecution when they believe the speech will alarm jurors,” Meek said. “Sharing political or religious views should never be criminalized, no matter how distasteful some may find those views.”
Robert Boyle, Esq. is an attorney specializing in criminal appeals, civil rights and human rights litigation. He has represented several targets of government entrapment in alleged “material support” prosecutions.
The 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