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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 November 2005, 05:19 GMT
US convicts man of al-Qaeda plot
Uzair Paracha in a court sketch from 2003
Uzair Paracha is said to have refused a plea deal
A Pakistani man has been convicted by a US court of trying to help an al-Qaeda operative enter the country in order to attack Americans.

Uzair Paracha, 25, was convicted of using fake travel papers to help Majid Khan, thought to be in an overseas prison after being seized by the US.

He earlier testified to being coerced into making a false confession.

His lawyer said US investigators had extracted a false confession by denying his client food and sleep.

Paracha could be jailed for up to 75 years when his sentence is announced at a later date.

His lawyer, Anthony Ricco, said his client had rejected a plea deal that would have led to a lesser sentence because he believed he was innocent.

He said his client was "hurt" and disappointed by the verdict and that it was difficult to clear defendants in terror trials because the US government "was at war with al Qaeda".

Witness request

Prosecuting lawyer Karl Metzner had argued that Paracha tried to help Mr Khan knowing that the alleged al-Qaeda operative wanted to enter the country to kill Americans.

The prosecution alleged Paracha had agreed to smuggle travel documents and pose as Mr Khan while in the US.

Mr Khan has been accused of planning to blow up petrol stations in the US. Little proof of the alleged plot was shown at the trial.

A request by Paracha to have Mr Khan and another alleged al-Qaeda figure in US custody, Ammar al-Baluchi, appear as witnesses in his trial was turned down by the judge.

The court did hear a statement from Mr Khan and Mr Baluchi in which they said neither Paracha, nor his father, knowingly aided al-Qaeda.

Paracha's father, Saifullah Paracha, is currently being held at the US military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

He has not been charged with any crime but documents supplied by the US allege he was laundering money for al-Qaeda.

The Pakistani family managed several businesses in New York.




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