BOSTON — Former Sudbury resident Tarek Mehanna was granted the 36th annual Sacco & Vanzetti Social Justice Award Sunday from the Community Church of Boston for his struggle as a seeker of justice.
Following discussions on America’s history of oppressed people, Mehanna’s father, mother, brother and sister-in-law accepted the award on his behalf.
Mehanna is serving a 17-1/2 –year sentence at the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, Ind. He was convicted in 2011 on various terrorism-related charges after federal prosecutors said he traveled to Yemen to seek training in a terrorist camp in order to fight U.S. soldiers in Iraq and translated texts for terror groups.
The crowd of about 60 people at the Sunday morning service listened to a recording of Mehanna’s sentencing statement, in which he maintained his innocence, saying that although he advocates for Muslim’s right to self defense, he did not conspire to kill Americans.
Mehanna’s father, Ahmed Mehanna, said he wrote a three-page letter to US District Judge George A. O’Toole, who handed down the sentence in Mehanna’s case.
“The judge was from the get go … had the mind to convict him,” Ahmed said.
Members of the Tarek Mehanna Support Committee rallied on behalf of Mehanna, who they said is a “political prisoner and target of FBI persecution.”
Congressional Director Linda Jenkins called the evidence against Mehanna “laughable” and suggested the real reason for his arrest was that he was a politically outspoken Muslim who refused to collude with the FBI.
Ahmed said Mehanna’s prison sentence is “a very sad situation” for the family, but “truth will prevail.”
Their point would be better made if they said Mehanna was convicted of doing the same thing Obama did in Libya and now Syria – aiding and funding Islamic terrorists.
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