Examiner : Jury in Phoenix ex-sailor's terror trial ends day with no verdict

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Jury in Phoenix ex-sailor's terror trial ends day with no verdict

By JOHN CHRISTOFFERSEN, The Associated Press | March 4, 2008

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Jurors deciding the fate of a former Navy sailor charged with leaking details of ship movements to suspected terrorists ended their first day of deliberations Tuesday without reaching a verdict.

They got the case Tuesday morning after six days of testimony about Hassan Abu-Jihaad, 32, of Phoenix.

He has pleaded not guilty to federal charges alleging he provided material support to terrorists and disclosed classified national defense information.

He is accused of passing along details that included the makeup of his Navy battle group, its planned movements and a drawing of the group's formation when it was to pass through the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf on April 29, 2001.

Abu-Jihaad, who did not take the stand, was a Navy signalman honorably discharged in 2002. He faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted.

On Tuesday, jurors asked to again hear tapes of secretly recorded phone calls in which Abu-Jihaad spoke of "fresh meals" and "cold meals" that an FBI informant said were references to intelligence related to military bases. A "fresh meal" referred to useful information, while "cold meal" was code for outdated intelligence, prosecutors said.

"I ain't been working in the field of making meals in a long time," Abu-Jihaad said in a 2006 call played in court. "I've been out of that quatro years."

Authorities said the call was an admission that Abu-Jihaad provided such intelligence while in the Navy four years earlier.

But during the trial, his attorney rejected the claim that Abu-Jihaad admitted to leaking Navy secrets, saying the conversation cited by prosecutors occurred many years later and it was not clear what Abu-Jihaad was referring to.

Earlier in the day, jurors sent word that they needed answers to two questions. One was when Azzam Publications, a Web site allegedly run by terrorism supporters, shut down. The answer was in approximately 2002. Abu-Jihaad is accused of ordering violent videos from the site.

They also wanted to know whether a signalman like Abu-Jihaad would be able to send and receive messages from his personal e-mail account while at sea. Testimony indicated that a computer terminal where signalmen were stationed had Internet access.

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