U.S. Wants Islamic Charity Figure Held as Flight Risk

August 23, 2007

Author: Staff Writer

Source: Khaleej Times

Wire Service: AP


EUGENE, Oregon — A missing passport and questions about whether he supports radical Islamic doctrine will keep the co-founder of a defunct Islamic charity in jail at least another two weeks after he voluntarily returned to the US to face tax fraud and conspiracy charges.

Pirouz Sedaghaty, a native of Iran and a US citizen, left the United States in 2003 during an investigation that resulted in a federal grand jury indictment in February 2005, accusing him of helping to smuggle $150,000 out of the country to aid Muslim fighters in Chechnya.

Sedaghaty, 49, returned exactly one week ago, on the same day that the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals was hearing arguments about warrantless wiretapping of the US chapter of the Al Haramain Islamic Foundation that Sedaghaty co-founded in the Southern Oregon town of Ashland in 1997.

Sedaghaty, also known as Pete Seda, pleaded not guilty to the tax and conspiracy charges last week, and asked to be released pending trial.

But the US Attorney’s office asked that he be held in custody, arguing he is a flight risk, leading to a lengthy detention hearing on Wednesday before US Magistrate Judge Thomas Coffin.

The judge said he was being asked to decide whether religious beliefs could be the basis for keeping a person in jail.