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Jury Finds Bin Laden Driver Guilty of Supporting Terrorism

By VOA News

06 August 2008

A jury of U.S. military officers has convicted Salim Hamdan, a former driver for al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden, of providing material support to terrorism.

The decision was announced Wednesday at the U.S. military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He faces a possible life sentence.

A military commission tried Hamdan on charges of conspiracy and providing material support for terrorism. The jury found Hamdan not guilty on the conspiracy charge.

The jury began deliberations Monday afternoon. During the two-week trial, prosecutors said Hamdan was an active member of al-Qaida who delivered weapons for the terrorist group and helped protect bin Laden.

The defense argued that the Yemeni was a simple man who just wanted to earn a living and was not part of al-Qaida.

Hamdan is the first detainee at Guantanamo to face a full trial since the detention center opened in early 2002.

U.S. military prosecutors say two surface-to-air missiles were found in Hamdan's vehicle when he was captured in Afghanistan in late 2001.

The U.S. detention center and the military commission system under which Hamdan was tried have come under intense domestic and international criticism. About 270 detainees are at Guantanamo. Some have been held for years without charge.

The Bush administration has declared the detainees unlawful enemy combatants, not entitled to the rights afforded prisoners of war. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that foreign terrorism suspects held at Guantanamo can challenge their detentions in civilian courts.



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