CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Friday, February 6, 2009

Seventh Circuit Affirms Iraqi Spy's Conviction

The 7th Circuit refused to overturn the conviction of a former spy for Saddam Hussein who came to the United States as an unwitting "sleeper agent" for the Iraqi Intelligence Service and obtained U.S. citizenship by lying on his application.

Sami Latchin actively served in the IIS from 1979 to 1993, and was selected as one of the sleeper agents in Hussein's plan to plant spies around the world to gain positions of influence, gather intelligence and influence policy in favor of Hussein's Ba'athist regime.

"All spy programs, of course, operate on deception - the spies pretend to be people they aren't," Judge Evans wrote. "But Saddam's plan took it to a whole new level - not even the spies would know they were part of the program until they were activated many years down the road."

The only sleeper agent planted in the United States, Latchin insisted he went there to "retire." But the government produced evidence that Latchin made several trips to Eastern Europe to meet with "Ali," his handler, who gave him a code name and a cover story should he run into trouble. Ali also paid Latchin $24,000 a year for his services - an amount Latchin later explained as "retirement pay."

He settled in Chicago, where he worked as a counter agent at O'Hare International Airpot. In 1998, he successfully applied for naturalization.

"That may strike the reader as a shock," Evans wrote. "How could a spy for Saddam Hussein - whether past or present - acquire citizenship so easily? According to the government, only by lying."

Read full article here. [Brooks Holland]

Criminal Law, Homeland Security | Permalink

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