DALLAS – Oct. 27, 2015 – Attorneys for Armin Harcevic filed a motion with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri asking the court to dismiss all charges against their client due to insufficiencies in the indictment (USA vs. Ramiz Zijad Hodzic, et al. Case No. 4:15-CR-0049 CDP-DDN).
In February, a grand jury issued an indictment against Harcevic alleging he was involved with a conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization (FTO) and material support of murder overseas in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2339A. The charges stem from a $1,500 donation he provided for an individual prosecutors claim Harcevic knew was intending to engage in combat against the Assad regime in Syria.
Attorneys for Harcevic are concerned about the constitutional impact the case poses if the prosecution is allowed to put Harcevic on trial because the indictment does not specify the intent of the donation, which supporters argue was meant for humanitarian aid.
“If these charges are permitted to proceed against Mr. Harcevic, then anyone who provided any form of support to the Syrian resistance, including the Free Syrian Army, could be subject to criminal prosecution,” said Charles Swift, one of Harcevic’s attorneys and Director of Constitutional Law Center for Muslims in America, a nonprofit law center that defends constitutional liberties.
Representatives from Muslim Legal Fund of America, a nonprofit civil liberties defense organization, agreed to support Harcevic’s defense in consideration of the constitutional implications of the case.
“We must defend donors who give with good intentions,” said Khalil Meek, Executive Director of MLFA. “Everyone agrees that material support for terrorism should be stopped, but the laws setup to prosecute criminals should not be used arbitrarily to rob individuals of their liberties – especially those who are seeking to do good in the world.”
In Harcevic’s motion to dismiss the charges, Swift argues that the Justice Department’s attempted expansion of Section 2339A to include donations that are made to an undesignated terrorist organization without the intent to support a crime is contrary to the specific intent enacted by Congress for a violation of section 2339A and that term “fighting” impermissibly includes support for lawful armed conflict as basis for prosecution.
Swift said the court will likely issue a ruling in early 2016.
Harcevic was released on bail in April, a fact supporters take as a good sign.
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.