Judge puts off Seda decision to September

EUGENE — Pete Seda’s attempt to gain freedom will be on hold at least 19 more days while the government looks into his activities abroad the past four years, including his time as a wanted fugitive.

Concluding a daylong hearing today in Eugene, U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Coffin said he would wait until at least Sept. 10 to consider conditions under which Seda could be released on bail while fighting his conspiracy and tax-fraud case involving his defunct Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation chapter in Ashland.

The delay will give federal agents and court officials a chance to learn more about Seda’s activities in Iran and Syria since 2003, including the 2½ years after his 2005 indictment.

In a required pretrial report to court officials, Seda has provided little information about his whereabouts, and prosecutors questioned whether Seda was truthful that he financed his time abroad through the sale of an Ashland home in 2001.

The delay will give agents a chance to find the last of three passports — two U.S. and one Iranian — which was believed to have been surrendered in Saudi Arabia.

After a whirlwind hearing delving into Islamic extremism, Coffin hinted in court that he could set a bail and other conditions that could lead to Seda’s release from the Lane County Jail — provided Seda becomes more forthright about his comings and goings in the Middle East.

“There’s legitimate concerns that the government doesn’t know what he’s been up to the past four or five years,” Coffin said in court.

“It seems to me it’s possible to fashion conditions that would allow (Seda) to be released,” Coffin said.

— Mark Freeman
Details: Thursday’s Mail Tribune

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