CHICAGO – A suburban Chicago newspaper publisher convicted of spying on Iraqi dissidents for Saddam Hussein (search) was sentenced Wednesday to three years and 10 months in federal prison.
Khaled Abdel-Latif Dumeisi (search), 61, is expected to be deported after he finishes his prison term.
U.S. District Judge Suzanne B. Conlon also said he may not re-enter the United States without permission from the attorney general.
Dumeisi was convicted of failing to register as a foreign agent, conspiring to fail to register, lying to a federal grand jury and lying to an immigration agent. He was not convicted of espionage, which involves theft of defense secrets, nor was there any allegation the case involved terrorism.
"I don't think anyone at the trial would conclude that Mr. Dumeisi was a sophisticated spy," the judge said, characterizing his offense as more like fraud.
Witnesses said Dumeisi spied on Iraqi dissidents living in the United States who were opposed to Saddam's regime and that he forwarded his information to Iraqi intelligence agents who worked at that country's U.N. mission under the guise of diplomats.
His tiny suburban newspaper, Al Mahjar, was full of articles critical of U.S. Mideast policy and praising the Iraqi dictator.
During his weeklong trial in January, prosecutors presented evidence including a videotape of Dumeisi giving an anti-American speech on Saddam's birthday in which he called the Iraqi dictator "our great leader" and praised missile attacks on Israel during the 1991 Persian Gulf War.
The prosecution's key witness — described as a top Iraqi intelligence officer captured as U.S. tanks rumbled into Baghdad — said papers describing Dumeisi's activities on behalf of the regime were authentic. The documents were turned over to American intelligence after the Iraqi capital fell.
Defense attorney William H. Theis argued his client was not very important in the world of Iraqi intelligence, noting the papers included "bureaucratic bickering" over who would be forced to pay Dumeisi $500 for his services. Apparently no one wanted to.
He also said the high-ranking Iraqi intelligence official had testified that, while the documents were authentic, he had never heard of Dumeisi.
Thomas J. Kneir, special agent in charge of the Chicago office of the FBI, disagreed that Dumeisi was unimportant.
"This guy was way up the food chain," Kneir said after the sentencing.