Press Releases

CAIR-Sacramento Valley Welcomes Judge’s Recommendation to Vacate Hamid Hayat’s Sentence

(SACRAMENTO, CA, 1/11/19) – The Sacramento Valley office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-SV) today welcomed a federal magistrate judge’s recommendation that the sentence be vacated for Hamid Hayat, a Lodi Muslim convicted in 2006 on terrorism-related charges. 

Magistrate Judge Deborah Barnes of the Eastern District of California released the opinion Friday. 

SEE: Hayat Opinion

“We applaud the court’s recommendation to vacate Hamid Hayat’s sentence. At the time of Mr. Hayat’s case, the prosecution took advantage of post-9/11 hysteria to convict him,” said CAIR-SV Executive Director Basim Elkarra. “We are relieved that the court recognized there was prejudice in Mr. Hayat’s case and that he did not receive a fair trial.”

Hayat’s present legal team, Riordan & Horgan, issued a statement noting that: “While Judge Barnes’ opinion establishes that Hamid Hayat has been confined for nearly 14 years on a conviction that is constitutionally invalid, it does far more than that. The judge found the testimony of the alibi witnesses sufficiently credible to conclude that Hamid would likely not have been convicted if the jury had heard these witnesses. That is effectively a finding of actual innocence.”

BACKGROUND ON THE CASE: Judge in Infamous ‘Sleeper Cell’ Case Agrees to Hear New Evidence That Could Help Convicted Terrorist (The Intercept, 2017)

Hayat’s case drew national media attention, while concerns were raised about the role that emotions and prejudice may have played during a period of heightened tensions.

Hayat, an American citizen, was convicted of having attended a training camp for 3 to 6 months while he was in Pakistan between 2003-2005.

In the petition to overturn his conviction, Hayat presented sworn statements from 18 family and community members who stated that he could not have attended the camp because they saw him on a daily basis during the entire time he spent in Pakistan.

That evidence was never presented to the jury that convicted him. 

Early last year, new evidentiary hearings were granted for Hayat, to determine whether he was denied a fair trial.

SEE: ”˜He’s innocent; he’s been innocent.’ Lodi terror suspect’s family hopes he’ll be released (Sac Bee)

CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.

La misión de CAIR es proteger las libertades civiles, mejorar la comprensión del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanes en los Estados Unidos.

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CONTACT: CAIR-SV Civil Rights Attorney Saad Sweilem, 916-441-6269,; CAIR-SV Communications Manager Kalin Kipling-Mojaddedi, 916-441-6269,; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726,

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