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Father Charged in U.S. Terror Probe Freed

By DON THOMPSON
The Associated Press
Monday, May 1, 2006; 11:50 PM

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- A man whose son was convicted of supporting terrorism by attending an al-Qaida camp in Pakistan was released Monday after nearly a year in federal custody.

Umer Hayat, a 48-year-old ice cream vendor, had been held since he and his son, Hamid, were arrested last June.

Umer Hayat was charged with two counts of lying to the FBI about his son's attendance at the training camp, but his case ended in a mistrial last week after the jury said it was deadlocked.

Prosecutors and defense lawyers will return to court Friday to determine whether he should face a new trial.

Last week, a U.S. district judge lowered Umer Hayat's bail from $1.2 million to $390,000, paving the way for his release.

Hayat, a naturalized U.S. citizen, walked out of the federal courthouse with his lawyer, Johnny Griffin III. Shortly before his release, he learned that his father had died Saturday afternoon.

"We stand here with a very heavy heart right now," Griffin said. "It's a bittersweet moment right now. His father tried to hang on."

Griffin declined to let his client speak to reporters.

Umer Hayat will be under house arrest in the agricultural town of Lodi and was fitted with an electronic monitoring device.

A separate jury last week convicted Hamid Hayat, 23, of one count of providing material support to terrorists and three counts of lying to the FBI.

He faces a maximum of 39 years in prison when he is sentenced July 14. His attorney, Wazhma Mojaddidi, is seeking a new trial.

Both men had given videotaped confessions to FBI agents that were played to jurors. Defense lawyers said their clients gave the confessions after they were worn down by hours of questioning and were merely responding to leading questions by FBI agents.

© 2006 The Associated Press