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Al Qaeda Aider Granted Compassionate Release and Now Email Protections For NYU Program

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon
BBC - Guardian UK - Honduras - The Source

SDNY COURTHOUSE, June 16 – Wesam El-Hanafi was indicted in 2010 for material support to Al Qaeda.

He pleaded guilty in 2012 and was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment in 2015 by U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Kimba M. Wood. 

 On May 19, 2020 El-Hanafi was granted compassionate release from the Butner federal prison amid COVID-19 cases there. And on June 16 he sought a modification of supervised released in a proceeding before Judge Wood. Inner City Press covered it.  

   The proceeding largely focused on El-Hanafi's access to the Internet. He is looking into applying to an NYU cyber-security program.  

 His lawyer Sarah Kunstler said, "If Probation does not want him to associate with Mr. Koch, then he won't. But it's not a ground for access to Mr. El-Hanafi's work e-mails." 

   Judge Wood asked the Probation Officer, You're saying no need to report to his employer?  

  Probation Officer Kelly replied, As to search and seizures, the Judicial Conference approved guidelines. 

   Judge Wood followed up, You can do physical searches under current conditions, including of an employer's server?    

Probation: Yes. Next Probation said that an employer could see that its server had been accessed by the government.   

 Judge Wood: Assuming arguendo that would not be desirable from an employment perspective, could you build in some judicial review? [This is characteristic of Judge Wood: compassionate, soft spoken, solution focused. Still, others may view it differently.]

  The answer being yes, Judge Wood ruled: Defense counsel should draft something that seems reasonable, and confer with Probation Officer Kelly, and bring it to me, if any disputes. Work it out by Friday? Agreed.    

 El-Hanafi thanked Judge Wood for compassionate release.

The case is US v. El-Hanafi, 10-cr-162 (Wood). 


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