NEW YORK – A former Iraqi diplomat's son accused of aiding Iraqi spies was actually helping the United States and plans to seek asylum, his lawyer said Tuesday.
The lawyer, Thomas H. Nooter, spoke on behalf of Raed Rokan Al-Anbuge, 28, after the son of Iraq's former liaison with United Nations weapons inspectors appeared briefly in federal court.
Al-Anbuge was charged Monday with illegally aiding Iraqi government agents, but Nooter said most of the information in the criminal complaint came from his client as he cooperated with the FBI during the last two years.
"If he was an agent of anybody, he was an agent of us," Nooter said.
In court papers, the government alleges that Al-Anbuge aided at least five Iraqi agents, four of whom worked at the United Nations' Iraqi mission. One of the agents had been sent to the United States to kill a former Iraqi government official, the government said without elaborating.
The FBI said Al-Anbuge admitted carrying out several tasks for Iraqi intelligence officers, including providing personal information about four Iraqi expatriates. Nooter said his client denies that accusation.
Nooter said Al-Anbuge returned to the Iraqi mission monthly after his father, Rokan Al-Anbuge, was recalled to Iraq in 2000 from his position as deputy permanent representative to the mission. The lawyer said his client was "trying to protect himself and his family from being suspected of being disloyal."
Al-Anbuge, who first came to the United States on Nov. 7, 1997, has been held since March 25 on immigration charges because he overstayed his visa after his father left the country, authorities said.
If convicted of aiding Iraqi agents, he could face up to 10 years in prison.