Man is convicted of lying about his ties to Hussein's regime

He was sent to spy on Iraqi dissidents in the United States, officials say. He now faces years in prison.

Associated Press
Published April 17, 2007

CHICAGO - An alleged Iraqi "sleeper agent" sent by Saddam Hussein to spy on dissidents in the United States was convicted Monday of lying about his ties to the former Baghdad regime.

Sami Khoshaba Latchin, 59, was expressionless as he listened through headphones to an Arabic translation as U.S. District Judge Rebecca R. Pallmeyer read the verdict that could send him to prison for years.

The jury, which began deliberating Friday after a nine-day trial, reached its verdict after about three hours of deliberation over two days. Pallmeyer set sentencing for July 9. Prosecutors told Pallmeyer they would most likely ask for more than 70 months in prison.

The evidence included testimony from three former Iraqi intelligence officers who said Latchin, a husky former airline employee who has lived quietly for years in a Chicago suburb, was one of them.

Two of the former intelligence officers testified using aliases, saying they were concerned about reprisals from Saddam Hussein sympathizers.

Latchin was convicted of all five charges against him: lying on his U.S. citizenship application, acting as an unregistered foreign agent and conspiring to do so, lying to an FBI agent and violating U.S. sanctions against Iraq.

Latchin was not accused of espionage - an offense that involves obtaining U.S. military secrets. Prosecutors say his spying was aimed only at Iraqi civilians in the United States.