Yale Student Sentenced to 50 Hours of Community Service for Burning American Flag

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A Yale University student was sentenced to community service and a special form of probation Thursday for burning an American flag on the porch of a New Haven home, his attorney said.

Charges against two other students were dismissed.

Said Hyder Akbar, 23, Nikolaos Angelopoulos, 19, and Farhad Anklesaria, 19, had faced charges including arson and reckless endangerment.

Attorney William Dow, who represented Akbar, has called the incident a "foolish college prank."

Akbar received 50 hours of community service and accelerated rehabilitation, attorneys said. That means his record will be erased if he stays out of trouble.

Akbar worked as an informal translator for U.S. forces during the invasion of Afghanistan and later published a memoir, "Come Back to Afghanistan."

"The facts of life are all college students can be relied upon to act foolishly upon occasion," Dow said. "He is different though because he not only has a strong allegiance to the United States but has acted on that by serving in Afghanistan and actively supporting the U.S. efforts there."

Akbar apologized to the homeowner, who supported his request for accelerated rehabilitation, Dow said.

Charges were dismissed against Angelopoulos, a Greek citizen, and Anklesaria, a British citizen, after Akbar told prosecutors the other two students had nothing to do with the incident, said their attorney, Hugh Keefe.

The three were arrested earlier this month after officers on patrol spotted the burning flag and tore it from pole where it was mounted to the house, police said.

Akbar is a U.S. citizen born in Pakistan whose father served as a regional governor in Afghanistan.

Akbar testified in 2004 at the trial of David Passaro, a former CIA contractor charged in the death of an Afghan citizen in U.S. custody. Akbar said he walked out of the interrogation in disgust after the contractor began threatening the prisoner, but saw no abuse.

Passaro, a former Hartford police officer, was sentenced in February to nearly 8 1/2 years in prison for beating a man in Afghanistan who later died.