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Purported Hamas follower sentenced

A Chicago man accused of supporting Hamas was sentenced to 11 years in prison for his refusal to testify before a grand jury.

Prosecutors said Abdelhaleem Ashqar’s refusal to testify in 2003 hamstrung their efforts to prosecute him and other figures accused of fundraising for the Palestinian terrorist group. Chicago-based U.S. District Judge Amy J. St. Eve handed down the especially tough sentence on Wednesday, saying Ashqar’s refusal was aimed at promoting terrorism.

Ashqar said he had no choice. “The only option was to become a traitor or a collaborator and this is something that I can’t do and will never do as long as I live,” he told the court, according to the Associated Press.

The defendants in the fundraising trial were acquitted, but Ashqar and at least two others have been jailed on justice obstruction charges arising out of the investigation.

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