Former airline employee sentenced for spying for Saddam "sleeper agent" spied on Iraqis in US
April 30, 2007
Monday April 16, 2007 7:31 PM
By MIKE ROBINSON
Associated Press Writer
CHICAGO (AP) - An alleged Iraqi "sleeper agent" sent by Saddam Hussein to spy on dissidents in the United States was convicted Monday of lying about his ties to the former Baghdad regime.
Sami Latchin, 59, was taken into custody minutes after the federal jury verdict, which could send him to prison for up to 40 years. Prosecutors warned that Latchin would be a flight risk if allowed to stay free until sentencing.
"He'll take that bracelet off (his ankle) and he's going to run," prosecutor James M. Conway told Judge Rebecca R. Pallmeyer.
Jurors deliberated about three hours on evidence that included testimony from three former Iraqi intelligence officers, two of whom took the stand under aliases, saying they were concerned about reprisals.
The evidence also included documents slipped to an FBI agent by Iraqi dissidents after U.S. tanks rolled into Baghdad. Prosecutors said the Arabic documents showed that Latchin was an agent for Iraqi intelligence.
Latchin, a former airline employee and Iraqi-born U.S. citizen, was arrested in August 2004. Wearing headphones to hear an Arabic translation of the proceedings, he showed no emotion when the verdict was announced.
He was convicted of all five charges against him: lying on his U.S. citizenship application, acting as an unregistered foreign agent and conspiring to do so, lying to an FBI agent and violating U.S. sanctions against Iraq.
Latchin was not accused of espionage - an offense that involves obtaining U.S. military secrets. Prosecutors say his spying was aimed only at Iraqi civilians in the U.S.