Judge rips alleged Iraqi spy, denies bail

Friday, July 18, 2003

CHICAGO -- Using unusually harsh words, a magistrate judge denied bail Thursday to an alleged spy for Saddam Hussein, saying he had "hitched his star to the murderer and torturer of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis."

Khaled Dumeisi held his head in his hands as federal Magistrate Judge Edward A. Bobrick accused him of spying for "the maniacal, perverted, homicidal mass murderer and torturer of women and children."

Dumeisi, 61, is accused of spying on Iraqi opposition leaders in this country on behalf of Saddam Hussein's intelligence service while failing to register as an agent of a foreign government.

The silver-haired community newspaper publisher also is charged with lying to an immigration official and a federal grand jury.

Bobrick's strongly worded refusal to grant bail drew a protest from defense attorney James Fennerty.

"Those are allegations, Judge," Fennerty said, reminding Bobrick that the charges have not been proven yet.

"Those are the allegations and there is probable cause to believe that," Bobrick shot back.

Spars with defense

Before the hearing was over, Fennerty asked Bobrick if he had written out his decision before the proceeding had even started. Bobrick said no.

"That's certainly unprofessional of you, counsel, to ask such a question of the court," Bobrick said.

Fennerty told reporters afterward that he will ask for reconsideration of bail when the case is brought before U.S. District Judge Suzanne B. Conlon, who will preside if the case goes to trial.

He described Dumeisi as a gentle, soft-spoken family man who believes that he has done nothing wrong.

"They haven't found Saddam, they haven't found bin Laden, so they're looking for little people to persecute" to justify budget outlays on the war against terrorism, Fennerty told reporters.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Victoria J. Peters told Bobrick that before his arrest Dumeisi transferred title to his house to a son and divested himself of two cars. She said that when FBI agents picked him up he had $1,400 in cash and a one-way ticket to Amman, Jordan.

Bobrick said that suggested Dumeisi was trying to flee the country.

Travel agent Emad Zatawi testified that he obtained the one-way ticket and could not get a return ticket on short notice because Royal Jordanian Airlines was booked up for both July and August.

He said Dumeisi could not go to Jordan on any other airline because his Jordanian passport had expired. He said Royal Jordanian was the only airline willing to take him to Amman, where he could renew the passport.

He said he urged Dumeisi to buy a return ticket from Al Italia once he reached the Jordanian capital. But Bobrick brushed that testimony aside, saying he could easily enough have gotten that ticket from Zatawi.

In denying bail, Bobrick found that Dumeisi was not only a flight risk but if released could still present a danger to Iraqi opposition figures and witnesses in the case.

He told Fennerty that "we find your client wanting in character" and said he would probably flee the country if allowed free on bond.

"It's not hard to get passports in the Mideast, whether issued by a government or counterfeit," Bobrick said.

Dumeisi was arrested July 9 and charged in a complaint with failing to register as the agent of a foreign government and conspiring to do so.

Dumeisi was indicted Wednesday on those charges and two additional charges of perjury.

He is not charged with espionage, which applies to individuals who spy on U.S. defense secrets. Prosecutors say Dumeisi spied on Iraqi dissidents under direction from Iraqi intelligence agents at the United Nations.

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