A federal jury in Detroit today acquitted an ex-Army translator of being a spy for Iraq, but convicted him of lying to investigators about his contacts with foreign government officials when he sought security clearance.
In the end, jurors weren’t convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that Issam (Sam) Hamama, formerly of Sterling Heights, was a spy for the Saddam Hussein regime in the 1990s.
“There was not enough concrete evidence that he had knowingly and willingly” worked as a spy for Iraq, said juror Antoinette Monastiere of Roseville, who had never been on a jury before. “I was nervous, more nervous than you can imagine.”
After the verdict, Hamama’s lawyer, Haytham Faraj, put his arm around his client, who appeared upset about the conviction, as did his wife, who wiped her face with a tissue as she sat in the courtroom behind her husband. The couple said nothing.
Hamama faces up to five years in prison for making false statements to authorities about his past contacts with foreign government officials when he applied for a job as a government translator in Iraq in 2003.
Despite the conviction, though, Faraj expressed some relief at convincing the jury that his client was not a spy.
“We have been vindicated,” Faraj said. “Lying is one thing, but they were accusing him of voluntarily working as a spy for a foreign country.”
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