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Jury in trial of Saudi student deadlocked

BOISE, Idaho -- The jury in the trial of a Saudi graduate student accused of using the Internet to foster terrorism told the judge yesterday that it had reached verdicts on some counts but was deadlocked on others.

The judge told jurors to keep working after they announced the impasse on the sixth day of deliberations in the case against Sami Omar Al-Hussayen, a 34-year-old PhD candidate in computer science at the University of Idaho.

US District Judge Edward Lodge said the jury did not identify which of the 14 counts were unresolved. "They've been discussed at great length," Lodge quoted from the message he received from the jury. "We're at an impasse. We request your guidance."

Lodge told jurors they should reexamine their views but warned them not to change their minds "solely because of the opinions of your fellow jurors or for the mere purpose of returning a verdict."

After two more hours of discussion, the jury recessed for the night.

Al-Hussayen is charged with creating and running Web sites that were used to finance and recruit terrorists for various groups, including the militant Palestinian organization Hamas. He also is accused of visa fraud and making false statements.

He was charged under a provision of the Patriot Act that makes it a crime to provide expert advice or assistance to terrorists.

His lawyers insisted that extremist writings posted on those sites did not reflect Al-Hussayen's views, and that the material was protected under the First Amendment anyway. They have pointed out that as a leader of the Muslim community in Moscow, Idaho, Al-Hussayen publicly denounced the Sept. 11 attacks.

Al-Hussayen is a member of a prominent Saudi family whose education was being financed by the Saudi government.

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