Community Paper Publisher Found Guilty of Spying for Iraq

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A suburban community newspaper publisher was convicted of spying on Iraqi exiles in this country for Saddam Hussein's (search) intelligence service, a charge that could land him in prison for years.

Khaled Abdel-Latif Dumeisi (search), 61, remained calm Monday as the federal court jury delivered its verdict after deliberating less than three hours.

Dumeisi could be sent to prison for 25 years if he were sentenced consecutively, though he is likely to get much less time under federal guidelines at sentencing, set for March 30.

Prosecutors said there was no evidence that any anti-Saddam dissidents spied on by Dumeisi had been harmed — but they weren't taking any chances.

"The Iraqi intelligence service is a service that you wouldn't want to have information about you," U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald said following the verdict.

Dumeisi, born in what was then Palestine (search) and a resident of the Chicago suburb of Burbank until his arrest last July, was convicted of failing to register as a foreign agent with the Justice Department.

He was also convicted of conspiring not to register, lying to an immigration officer and lying to a federal grand jury about his ties with the Iraqi government.

According to prosecutors, Dumeisi spied on Iraqi dissidents in part because he admired Saddam as a friend of the Palestinians and partly because he was being paid.

Prosecutors say he was controlled through the Iraqi mission to the United Nations in New York.

Dumeisi admitted he got telephone records from a high-ranking leader of Iraqi dissidents in the U.S., but not for spying purposes.

"The government's case is an unholy marriage of grossly unreliable documentary evidence and malicious street gossip of the worst class," said Dumeisi's attorney, John Murphy.