U.S. dropping charges against Saudi suspect
September 8, 1997
Web posted at: 3:18 p.m. EDT (1918 GMT)
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The U.S. government is dropping terrorism-related charges against a Saudi suspect who was believed to have connections to last year's Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia which killed 19 U.S. servicemen.
Hani al-Sayegh had never been charged in connection with that bombing, but was held on an unrelated charge of aiding in a plot designed to kill U.S. citizens in Saudi Arabia. After first entering a plea agreement in that case, he later changed his decision and pleaded not guilty.
The Justice Department has confirmed it has decided to drop all charges.
Attorneys for al-Sayegh have claimed the United States had no evidence in the case against al-Sayegh other than statements he had made to authorities while he was in custody in a Canadian prison.
Al-Sayegh was arrested in Canada last spring, and held in Ottawa while he was questioned by FBI agents about his possible involvement in the Khobar Towers bombing. Canadian court documents indicated al-Sayegh was suspected of being a possible lookout who signaled the driver of the
explosives-laden truck which parked near the Khobar Towers military housing complex.
Al-Sayegh was flown to Washington in June, after Canadian authorities agreed to hand him over to the FBI. Al-Sayegh, a dissident Shiite Muslim opposed to the Saudi monarchy, is said to fear he will be executed as a terrorist if he is returned to Saudi Arabia.
Sources close to the case say al-Sayegh wants to apply for political asylum in the United States to block a potential deportation to Saudi Arabia.