Nearly one year after students voiced political dissent at a speech given by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren, the Orange County District Attorney has pressed 'conspiracy' charges against 11 of them.
'Each defendant is charged with one misdemeanor count of conspiracy to disturb a meeting and one misdemeanor count of the disturbance of a meeting. If convicted, they each face a sentence ranging from probation with community service and fines up to six months in jail...The defendants are: Mohamed Mohy-Eldeen Abdelgany, 23; Khalid Gahgat Akari, 19; Aslam Abbasi Akhtar, 23; Joseph Tamim Haider, 23; Taher Mutaz Herzallah, 21; Hakim Nasreddine Kebir, 20; Shaheen Waleed Nassar, 21; Mohammad Uns Qureashi, 19; Ali Mohammad Sayeed, 23; Osama Ahmen Shabaik, 22; and Asaad Mohamedidris Traina, 19. This case is being filed because there was an organized attempt to squelch the speaker, who was invited to speak to a group at UCI.These defendants meant to stop this speech and stop anyone else from hearing his ideas, and they did so by disrupting a lawful meeting. This is a clear violation of the law and failing to bring charges against this conduct would amount to a failure to uphold the Constitution,” stated District Attorney Tony Rackauckas. ...The U.S. Supreme Court has found that the relationships and associations of the parties involved may be religious, and if a relevant circumstance to the existence of a conspiracy, are not barred from admission by constitutional provisions guaranteeing freedom of religion...The conspiracy charge could be filed as a felony. After taking into consideration all of the facts and circumstances of this case, the OCDA has exercised its discretion to file this count as a misdemeanor.'