SACRAMENTO - One of the premier law firms in the country claims prosecutors withheld evidence in the 2006 terror trial that sent a Lodi man to federal prison for 24 years.
Well-known San Francisco appellate attorney Dennis Riordan filed a motion Wednesday in U.S District Court in Sacramento to vacate the conviction and sentence of Hamid Hayat, 31, who is incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Institution, Phoenix.
Hayat was convicted in 2006 of lending support to international terrorism and lying to FBI agents.
His father, Umer Hayat, was charged with lying to FBI agents but was not convicted.
Prosecutors claimed Hamid Hayat attended a Jihadist training camp in Balakot, Pakistan from Oct. 2003 through Nov. 2004.
The government never offered any physical evidence of Hayat's presence at the camp, relying entirely on what Riordan describes as confused statements made during a marathon interrogation.
Riordan claims Hayat went to Pakistan to get married and to help his mother get medical care.
In his filing, Riordan claims the Pakistani government shut down the Balakot camp before the time Hayat supposedly trained there and that U.S. government prosecutors would have known that.
Riordan points out the camp was less than a five-hour drive from Islamabad, where the FBI maintained an office.
"Obviously, the FBI had the capacity to easily visit that site and search it with a fine-tooth comb. It could have joined Pakistani law enforcement in arresting any militants on site, or had the arrests made by the Pakistanis alone. The United States also had the power to put an end to the life of any militant located at the Balakot/Mansehra location who might have been involved in threatening this country's national security, as it had done in a number of drone strikes prior to mid-2005 and hundreds since then," the filing states.
The motion also argues that Hayat's trial attorney, Wazhma Mojaddidi, was woefully unprepared for a complex federal trial, having only practiced law for 18 months when the case began.
Riordan claims Mojaddidi made a number of strategic errors before and during the trial, including her failure to conduct any investigation in Pakistan and to seek security clearance to inspect government files relating to the training camp.
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Hayat's conviction in 2013 based on the evidence presented at trial.