LOUISVILLE, Ky. – An Iraqi man facing terrorism charges in Kentucky has been held in solitary confinement for more than a year with no contact with other inmates or access, television, radio or outdoor recreation during the daytime, his attorney said.
The conditions under which 24-year-old Mohanad Shareef Hammadi have been held violate his constitutional rights, defense lawyer Jim Earhart said.
"It's horrendous," Earhart told The Associated Press on Monday. "He's doing about as well as could be expected if you put someone in a room by himself for a year."
Earhart has asked U.S. District Judge Thomas B. Russell to release Hammadi on bail until his Aug. 27 trial in Bowling Green. Russell has postponed the trial from the original date of July 30 because of a scheduling conflict.
Hammadi faces 12 charges, including attempting to send material support such as rocket-propelled grenade launchers, sniper rifles, machine guns and explosives to al-Qaida. A co-defendant in the case, 30-year-old Waad Ramadan Alwan, has pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing Oct. 2.
Prosecutors said Alwan and Hammadi lied to gain refugee status and enter the U.S. Prosecutors also said the pair took part in insurgent activities near Baiji, Iraq, including planting improvised explosive devices targeting U.S. troops.
In search warrants in the case, the FBI said the pair talked about attacking American soldiers and building homemade bombs. The two were caught in an FBI sting involving a confidential informant in Bowling Green.
Earhart is due in federal court Wednesday in Louisville for a hearing on the bail request. The motion does not specify where Hammadi would spend his home detention if he is released. Federal authorities use several detention centers in Kentucky to hold inmates. Court records do not reveal where Hammadi is being held under an assumed name. Federal prosecutors had not responded to a request for comment nor filed a response in court as of late Monday afternoon.
Charles Rose, a former Army intelligence officer and military attorney, said there may be intelligence or national security reasons for keeping Hammadi under an assumed name and in isolation.
"It's perfectly legitimate to do it if they've got a valid reason to believe this individual might be a danger to himself or others or if others might be a danger to him," said Rose, who teaches at Stetson College of Law in Gulfport, Fla. "Is it uncommon? Absolutely, it's uncommon."
Since pleading guilty, Alwan has been moved to the general population at an undisclosed jail and given the freedoms of other inmates, including the ability to socialize, watch television and have recreation time during the day, Earhart said.
When asked if federal authorities were trying to coerce a guilty plea from Hammadi by putting him in solitary confinement, Earhart said he wasn't sure, but found the differing circumstances of Alwan and Hammadi curious.
"It seems more than coincidental," Earhart said. "The only difference I can see between them is one pleaded guilty and one hasn't."
Earhart said he's discussed a plea deal with prosecutors, but so far they have not reached an agreement.
Rose said to show that Hammadi is being mistreated, Earhart will have to present evidence that there's no legitimate reason for holding his client in isolation.
"His detention has to be above board and not behind somebody's back," Rose said.
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