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Lodi terror suspects seek bail again

Two Lodi men charged in Sacramento federal court with lying about their alleged connections to terrorist training in Pakistan are once again seeking release on bail pending trial.

This is the third time Umer Hayat and his son, Hamid Hayat, have sought bail, and the matter will be heard next week before a third federal magistrate judge.

Through attorneys Johnny Griffin III and Wazhma Mojaddidi the pair are claiming in motions filed Monday that they have arranged for the posting of $1.213 million worth of property in Lodi to secure their releases and assure their court appearances.

According to the motions, one piece of property, co-owned by the Hayats and Umer Hayat's brother, is appraised at $390,000; a second, owned by Umer Hayat's brother, is appraised at $243,000; a third, owned by Umer Hayat's cousin, has an outstanding loan of $40,000 and is appraised at $370,000; and a fourth, owned by Umer Hayat's uncle, is appraised at $250,000.

Considering the Hayats' close ties to the Lodi community, the seizure of their passports "and the extremely high value of property posted to secure bond, the government has failed to meet its burden ... to justify pretrial detention," the motions say.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Peter A. Nowinski ordered the Hayats held without bail following their arrests in early June. He found them to be dangers to the community and flight risks.

Nowinski cited the fact that Hamid Hayat, 23, has a wife in Pakistan and Umer Hayat, 47, owns a home there. FBI agents say in court affidavits that Hamid Hayat admitted attending an al-Qaida-supported training camp in Pakistan and re-entered the United States to await orders to kill Americans, Nowinski pointed out.

The affidavits also say Umer Hayat contributed financial assistance to his son's alleged training, Nowinski noted.

Griffin and Mojaddidi filed motions in August seeking to reopen the bail issue before U.S. Magistrate Judge Dale A. Drozd.

Drozd said he does not believe the Hayats can legally be found dangerous because, despite the allegations in the affidavits, they are charged only with making false statements to FBI agents, which are not crimes of violence.

But Drozd refused to reopen the matter because, he said, circumstances regarding flight risk had not changed since they were before Nowinski.

"This is one of the most serious flight-risk cases that have been before me in my eight years on the bench," Drozd said. "In my view this is not a half-a-million-dollar case. It would take a lot more security than that for me to grant bail."

Monday's motions, which will be heard by U.S. Magistrate Judge Gregory G. Hollows, insist that the $1.213 million in collateral represents "material information justifying release that was not known ... at the time of the previous bond hearings."

In addition, the motions say, reopening the bail issue "is also proper to correct a clear error and prevent a manifest injustice resulting from the erroneous finding that (the Hayats are) a danger to the community even though (they have) not been charged with a crime of violence."

Hamid Hayat, who like his father is a U.S. citizen, was arrested after returning from Pakistan. According to FBI affidavits, Hamid and Umer Hayat first denied that Hamid Hayat had attended an al-Qaida-sponsored training camp, but they both later admitted it.

The only evidence the government has that the pair lied is their contradictory statements "made during stressful, protracted, and confusing interview sessions with FBI agents," the defense lawyers maintain. "Significantly, the FBI has no independent corroborating evidence" that the Hayats "knew of, visited, or observed terrorist training camps."

Prosecutors argue that undercover recordings of the Hayats and a "cooperating witness" confirm the pair's involvement in terrorist activity.

"Although these conversations began over three years ago, the government has still only provided (the defense lawyers) 'preliminary summary translations of the recorded conversations,'" Monday's motions contend.

"The defense anticipates that the actual statements made during these recordings, and the circumstances under which certain statements were made, will not support the government's position," the motions say.

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