TERROR

Federal judge orders pretrial release of terror suspect

A federal judge in Denver on Friday ordered the release of a man who has been detained for 5½ years after being accused of providing material support to an Uzbek terror organization active in Afghanistan.

Under Judge John Kane's order, Jamshid Muhtorov will remain detained in suburban Denver until a hearing to determine the conditions of his release. His trial is expected to begin early next year.

The order came a day after Muhtorov filed court documents accusing the detention center's warden of violating his right to a speedy trial, The Denver Post reported.

Muhtorov is accused of supporting the Islamic Jihad Union and communicating with the group's website administrator.

"His professed desire to join a movement that justifies the murder and maiming of all who dare to think differently than he does on matters of faith and religion deeply offend our values of religious liberty, the sanctity of life, tolerance, justice, and the rule of law," Kane wrote in his order. "Mr. Muhtorov, however, has already spent more than five years in detention before even being found guilty of acting, in any way, on his alleged terrorist beliefs."

Kane also argued that Muhtorov is not a flight risk, citing the suspect's family and community ties.

The judge noted that Muhtorov's wife has lived and worked in the community for a decade, and Muhtorov himself lived in suburban Denver for five years without incident before his arrest.

The couple also have three children together.

Jeffrey Dorschner, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Denver, decline to comment, citing a gag order in the case. A request for comment from the Federal Public Defender's office, which is representing Muhtorov, was not immediately granted Friday afternoon.

Muhtorov was arrested Jan. 21, 2012, in Chicago with about $2,800 in cash, two shrink-wrapped iPhones and an iPad, as well as a GPS device. He denied the allegations and said he had been headed to the Uzbekistan region to visit family when he was arrested.

In 2014, Muhtorov challenged the constitutionality of a National Security Agency warrantless surveillance program and requested that prosecutors disclose how surveillance law was used in his case.

The challenge came after the U.S. Justice Department said it intended to use information gleaned from one of the NSA's warrantless surveillance programs against Muhtorov. It was the first time the department had made such a disclosure.

Kane ruled in 2015 that the NSA's programs had a potential for abuse, but they did not violate Muhtorov's constitutional rights in this case. Warrantless wiretaps were used appropriately in the case, he said.

Muhtorov fled Uzbekistan in 2007 and settled in the Denver suburb of Aurora as a political refugee. He became a legal permanent U.S. resident.

Muhtorov argued he was targeted by the Uzbek government because of his work with human rights groups in his homeland.

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Associated Press writer James Anderson contributed to this report.