Federal appeals court upholds Mass. man's 2011 conviction of trying to aid al-Qaida

A federal appeals court has upheld a Massachusetts man's 2011 conviction of trying to help al-Qaida.

The 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that Tarek Mehanna, of Sudbury, received a fair trial when he was convicted of four terror-related charges and three charges of lying to authorities. He was sentenced to 17 1/2 years in federal prison.

The appeals judges said the trial court balanced concerns over national security and constitutional freedoms.

Prosecutors say Mehanna traveled to Yemen for training in a terrorist camp and intended to go to Iraq to fight U.S. soldiers. They say that when that failed, he returned to the United States and disseminated materials promoting violent jihad.

Mehanna's lawyers say he didn't give any tangible support to al-Qaida, and his online activities were protected free speech.