This story has been in the Yemeni press for a few days now…good to see it was finally picked up by an English paper. From the other reports, it sounded like Seche was trying to explain to the sheikhs how his personal belief carries no weight in an independent judiciary…its not surprising that they didn’t understand.
US ambassador denies talk about innocence of Al Moayad and Zaid
Written By: Nasser Arrabyee
Article Date: Jan 26, 2008
The US ambassador to Yemen has denied local reports about his personal beliefs regarding the “innocence or guilt” of the two Yemenis jailed in the United States on terrorist charges.
Tribal sheikhs and relatives of Mohammed al-Moayad and Mohammed Zaid, jailed in Colorado, told reporters last week that the US ambassador to Sana’a, Steven Seche, “has become convinced that the two men are innocent” after a meeting with them at the embassy.
“During that meeting Ambassador Seche never talked about his personal beliefs regarding al-Moayad and Zaid’s innocence or guilt,” the embassy said in a statement, a copy of which was faxed to the Yemen Observer. “The ambassador explained to the tribal sheikhs and relatives the steps of the appeal process of the two men.”
The embassy stressed that the case of the two men was not a case of opinion but rather one of legal facts after the two men were convicted by an American court of conspiring to support Al Qaeda and providing material support to the Palestinian resistance movement, Hamas.
Tribal sheikhs from Khalan and Amran, the tribes of the two men, have been organizing public events in Sana’a, including the meeting with the American ambassador, demanding the release of the two prisoners.
In mid-2005, a federal court in Brooklyn sentenced al-Moayad, 60, to 75 years in jail and fined him $1.25 million. It also sentenced Zaid to 45 years and fined him $750,000 for conspiring to support and fund Al Qaeda and Hamas.
An appeal court has been looking into their case since late last year.
In 2003, the two men were lured by a Yemeni-American agent to Germany where they were arrested after telling a federal agent posing as an American businessman that they would help him funnel money to militants. Later that year, the German government extradited the two men to the United States.