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Judges affirm rulings in Iraq name-selling case

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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the District Court's decisions in the appeals by the central Indiana man who tried to sell the names of CIA agents working covertly in Iraq shortly before the U.S. invaded the country in 2003.

The Circuit Court consolidated six appeals of Shaaban Hafiz Ahmad Ali Shaaban's post-judgment motions following his convictions in 2006 on six counts, including conspiracy and violating the Iraqi Sanctions under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. Shaaban traveled to Iraq in late 2002 where he offered to sell the names of U.S. intelligence agents to the country for $3 million dollars, as well as broadcasted messages of support for the Iraqi government on Iraqi media stations that encouraged Iraqis and others to forcibly resist the U.S. He was sentenced to 160 months in prison.

The Circuit Court decided only two of Shaaban's appeals merited discussion. In United States of America v. Shaaban Hafiz Ahmad Ali Shaaban, Nos. 08-4124, 08-4278, 09-1206, 09-1330, 09-2251, and 09-2277, the judges found the District Court didn't abuse its discretion when it denied Shaaban's motion for a new trial based on newly discovered evidence. They agreed with the lower court's reasoning that the evidence was known to Shaaban or readily ascertainable before trial, was needlessly cumulative, or was unlikely to lead to acquittal in a new trial.

The judges also considered Shaaban's appeal of the adverse ruling on a motion to reconsider the denial of his demand for the return of seized property. In October 2008, the District Court issued an order that said if Shaaban wanted to pursue the return of his property, he would have to file a new civil action and pay the filing fee or request leave to proceed in forma pauperis. In December 2008, he moved for reconsideration of that decision because he said he couldn't afford the filing fee.

Shaaban argued that the District Court erred in requiring him to start all over and file a new civil action. The judges noted Shaaban would have a point if he had appealed the October order instead of the December order.

"Further still, although the district court may have erroneously required him to start over with a new civil complaint, nothing is really lost because he can still do just that," stated the per curiam opinion. "Shaaban - whose criminal proceeding in the district court closed in January 2006 - has six years from the close of his criminal proceedings to initiate an action for return of his property."

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