A former University of Idaho football player who was detained as a material witness but never called to testify during the terrorism-support trial of Sami Omar Al-Hussayen has been released from travel restrictions.

U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge lifted the 15-month-old restrictions earlier this month on Abdulla Al-Kidd, known as Lavoni T. Kidd when he led the Vandals in rushing his senior season in 1995. The move came even as federal prosecutors assessed the possibility of retrying Al-Hussayen on immigration charges.

A jury acquitted Al-Hussayen of using his computer skills to foster terrorism and of three immigration violations in an eight-week trial. It deadlocked on eight other immigration charges that the government could bring to trial again.

Al-Hussayen, the 34-year-old Saudi national pursuing a doctorate in computer science at the University of Idaho before his arrest on Feb. 26, 2003, remained in the Canyon County Jail pending a decision whether he should be retired.

He is also under a deportation order, which is being appealed. Al-Hussayen was only months from finishing his doctorate and has done some work on it from his cell. But his wife and three sons returned to Saudi Arabia in January rather than fight government efforts to deport them…

Al-Kidd was arrested three weeks after Al-Hussayen last year and was jailed for two before he was released to the custody of his wife in Las Vegas and prohibited from traveling anywhere but California, Nevada, Washington and Idaho, where he has family. He had been a counselor for homeless teens in Seattle the previous year.

He was at Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C., when he was taken into custody on March 16, 2003, heading for Saudi Arabia to begin studying Islam on a four-year scholarship.

Federal prosecutors maintained then that Al-Kidd had testimony crucial to their case against Al-Hussayen and if permitted to go to Saudi Arabia was unlikely to return for the trial. They claimed Al-Kidd or his wife, Nadine Zegura, received thousands of dollars from Al-Hussayen and his associates in 2000 and 2001 — money Al-Kidd claimed was paid for compiling a newsletter.

But he was never called during the trial, and his federal public defenders said the government’s action not only cost Al-Kidd the scholarship but employment opportunities as well.


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