|For Immediate Release
September 23, 2011
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Chief of Staff
10 MEN CONVICTED AND SENTENCED FOR CONSPIRACY AND DISRUPTING A MEETING DURING SPEECH BY ISRAELI AMBASSADOR AT UCI
SANTA ANA – An Orange County jury convicted 10 defendants today with conspiracy to disrupt a meeting and speech by the Israeli Ambassador to the United States at the University of California, Irvine (UCI). The defendants were sentenced to three years of informal probation and 56 hours of court-approved community service. Each defendant was found guilty of one misdemeanor count of conspiracy to disturb a meeting and one misdemeanor count of the disturbance of a meeting.
The defendants are: Mohamed Mohy-Eldeen Abdelgany, 24; Khalid Bahgat Akari, 19; Aslam Abbasi Akhtar, 24; Joseph Tamim Haider, 23; Taher Mutaz Herzallah, 21; Shaheen Waleed Nassar, 21; Mohammad Uns Qureashi, 19; Ali Mohammad Sayeed, 24; Osama Ahmen Shabaik, 22; and Asaad Mohamedidris Traina, 20.
In July 2011, Hakim Nasreddine Kebir, 21, accepted a plea negotiation offered by the People. His case will be dismissed upon completion of 40 hours community service.
The incident (described below) occurred Feb. 8, 2010, on the campus of UCI. Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren (Ambassador Oren) was the featured speaker at a meeting co-sponsored by multiple organizations including Anteaters for Israel, UCI’s School of Law, Department of Political Science, and Center for the Study of Democracy. Approximately 500 to 700 people had assembled for the meeting. Seven of the defendants were students at UCI and Akari, Herzallah, and Nassar were students at University of California, Riverside.
Remarks by District Attorney Tony Rackauckas
“Today, an Orange County jury sent a strong message that First Amendment rights belong to every American and we will not tolerate a small band of people who want to hijack our freedoms.
“It does not matter if we agree with the speech, or even if we find the speaker offensive. It does not matter who the speaker is, or who is shutting him down.
“In this case, there was a meticulous, written conspiracy among members of the Muslim Students Union (MSU) to disrupt a speaker’s right to speak and the audiences’ right to listen and ask questions at the end. The defendants decided it was ‘our university’ and they got to decide who spoke, not only at University of California, Irvine (UCI), but all over our nation. They planned the ‘shutdown,’ calculating who was willing to get arrested, but betting that UCI police would likely not act.