WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. appeals court on Tuesday upheld a life imprisonment sentence for an American citizen convicted in 2005 of plotting to assassinate then-President George W. Bush and conspiring with al Qaeda.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, based in Virginia, rejected arguments by attorneys for Ahmed Abu Ali that the sentence was unreasonable and violated various constitutional provisions.
Abu Ali, who was born in Texas and lived in the Washington suburb of Falls Church, Virginia, was arrested in 2003 while studying at a Saudi university and was held in Saudi custody for 20 months before being returned to the United States to face trial.
In Saudi Arabia, he signed confessions and made statements admitting to the plot against Bush and to having ties to an al Qaeda cell. That provided the bulk of the U.S. government’s case against him.
His attorneys claimed at trial he had been tortured into confessing by the Saudi police, but U.S. courts rejected the argument.
Abu Ali initially was sentenced to 30 years in prison, but the appeals court in 2008 sided with U.S. Justice Department prosecutors and sent the case back for resentencing. He then received the maximum term of life in prison.
The U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Neil MacBride said he was pleased the appeals court upheld the sentence for a man who conspired to assassinate Bush and other high-ranking U.S. government and military leaders.
Reporting by James Vicini, Editing by Paul Simao