- The Washington Times - Monday, January 5, 2004

CHICAGO (AP) — The publisher of an Arabic-language community newspaper accused of spying on Iraqi dissidents for Saddam Hussein’s government was motivated by zeal for the Palestinian cause, prosecutors said yesterday.

“He believed that Saddam Hussein was the only Middle Eastern leader that really supported the cause of the Palestinians,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Victoria Peters told jurors as the trial for Khaled Dumeisi began.

Defense attorney William Theis countered that Mr. Dumeisi was merely a small-time suburban publisher who got involved with Iraqi officials as part of his search for material to write about.

Mr. Dumeisi, 61, born in what was then Palestine, is charged with failing to register as an agent for the Iraqi government, conspiring to serve as an agent without registering, lying to a federal grand jury and lying to an immigration agent when he sought to gain U.S. citizenship.

Mr. Theis said Mr. Dumeisi’s paper, which circulated in Chicago’s southern suburbs, aimed to connect recent arrivals from the Middle East with Arabic-speaking merchants.

“They want to deal with people who speak their language,” he said.

Mr. Theis acknowledged that Mr. Dumeisi had contacted the Iraqi mission to the United Nations, which American authorities say was the nerve center of Iraqi intelligence in the United States. But Mr. Theis said the visits were only to get material for Mr. Dumeisi’s paper.

In her opening statement, Miss Peters said Mr. Dumeisi furnished Iraqi agents with lists of phone calls made by a leading dissident in exile in this country that the publisher had obtained through a friend who worked for a telephone company.

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