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Freedom fundraiser



One-time terror defendant Karim Koubriti is hoping the kindness of strangers will help spring him from the clink.

Koubriti’s defense attorneys are calling on colleagues around the country to help pay for an electronic tether so Koubriti can be released on bond.

Koubriti and another defendant were found guilty of aiding terrorists and document fraud after a nine-week trial in U.S. District Court in Detroit in June of last year. A third defendant was convicted only of document fraud, while another was acquitted of all charges.

But the terror convictions were dismissed at the request of the U.S. Justice Department earlier this month after a government investigation showed that lead prosecutor Rick Convertino withheld critical information from the defense. The Justice Department has decided not to re-try the two men found guilty of terrorism charges, but it is pressing ahead with the document fraud case against Koubriti and the other two men found guilty of that charge during the first trial. A new trial date has not been set.

Koubriti could be deported if found guilty of document fraud, which makes him a flight risk in need of monitoring.

U.S. District Court Judge Gerald E. Rosen, who presided over the terror trial, is requiring that Koubriti have a GPS tether for one year, which will cost $5,000. But who will pay for the monitoring device? Koubriti, who has been in jail since September 2001, doesn’t have a dime. The court doesn’t pay for the tethers as a matter of policy. That leaves Koubriti’s attorneys to come up with the cash.

“We are basically having to fundraise,” says attorney Richard Helfrick, who represents Koubriti.

Helfrick says he doesn’t know how soon they will be able to raise the money. But letters seeking donations recently were sent to organizations around the country, including the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, he says.

Attorney James Thomas, who represents Ahmed Hannan, who was convicted at the terror trial only of document fraud, also had to raise the cash to get his client a GPS so he could be placed in a halfway house.

The court clerk says that bond has not been requested for the third defendant Abdel-Ilah Elmardoudi.

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