ALEXANDRIA: In a federal courthouse, nearly two and a half hours after his case was scheduled to begin, Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai was brought into Courtroom number 501, filled primarily with his supporters and journalists from the subcontinent.
As Fai’s wife and friends watched on, Gordon Kromberg, the prosecution lawyer, began by telling the court that Fai had admitted to receiving funds from the ISI, Pakistan’s intelligence agency.
However, Fai’s lawyers, Nina Ginsberg and Khurram Wahid, painted a case of Fai maintaining independence from the ISI’s viewpoint. According to the defense, Fai had received funds over the years from the ISI but he had always raised the voice for the cause of Kashmiris, and in the events that he organized, he always took care to present a balanced point of view, by inviting both Indians and Pakistanis. He may have received bullet points from them on subjects, but on many occasions, said his lawyers, Fai’s stance on Kashmir differed from that of the Government of Pakistan.
The defense also called FBI Agent Sarah Linden to testify, who has been named in the affidavit prepared by the FBI against Fai. Agent Linden said that Fai had in the past denied having links to the ISI or his handlers. When asked about three handlers by the FBI, Agent Linden said that Fai denied knowing two of them, and in the third person’s case, Fai said he had last spoken to the person ten years ago. However, said the prosecution, Fai had admitted to receiving funds from the ISI after he was questioned following his arrest.
In an absurd twist to the case, Agent Linden also talked about a paper clipping that had been found in Fai’s luggage after he had returned from a visit by the airport authorities. The newspaper clip was about the Raymond Davis case, however, Fai had said that the flip side of the newspaper bore his photograph, which is why he had saved and carried the newspaper clipping with him.
After the arguments by both the prosecution and defense, the judge set a bond of $100,000 for Fai, which is to be signed by his wife as the co-guarantor. Amongst conditions set by the judge, Fai will be placed under house arrest with an electronic monitoring device, and will not be allowed to leave the Washington area. Fai’s wife has also been asked to surrender her passport to US authorities; Fai’s passport is already with the USG.
Fai has also been asked to not maintain any contact with any foreign government or witness.
Speaking to the media after the court proceedings, Fai’s lawyers handed out a statement prepared by Fai. According to the statement, “It has been my lifelong commitment to the people of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, irrespective of their religious background and cultural affiliations to help achieve the right of self-determination to decide their future. God willing, I will continue to do that in days, weeks, months and years to come.”
Fai was arrested earlier this month, and was working as the director of the Kashmiri American Council. He has been charged with not informing the US government that he was in the pay of the Pakistan government while lobbying for the Kashmir cause and donating funds to Congressmen. Fai’s lawyers said that they have waived the 30-day speed trial option, and will, over the next few months, be studying the documents associated with the case.