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Federal convict's attorney says policy could set her client free

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Albany/HV: Federal convict's attorney says policy could set her client free
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The appeal process for a federal convict charged in an Albany terror sting may have new life based on a recent policy filed by the U.S. Attorney General. As our Maria Valvanis reports, Yassin Aref's attorneys say it may be their best opportunity to prove their client's innocence.

ALBANY, N.Y. -- For nearly a decade, attorneys for federal convict Yassin Aref have been denied a look at classified information they believe was illegally obtained and was ultimately used to convict their client.

"We were never even told by the courts that it existed in this case, but we know it did because the NY Times said so in 2006, that that evidence led to the arrest of Yassin Aref," said Manley.

Council Member Dominick Calsolaro said, "If someone does something wrong, fine. But get the evidence give the defendant the chance to defend themselves, and to have their attorneys have the information, that's just not the way the Government is supposed to work."

At a Tuesday press conference, Kathy Manley, one of Aref's attorneys, said under a policy recently announced by Attorney General Eric Holder, those documents could be released and in turn, so could Aref.

"The justice department will notify defendants where there is warrantless NSA Surveillance, where that had an impact on case," said Manley.

Yassin Aref and his co-defendant Mohammed Hossain were found guilty in 2006 of participating in a scheme to purchase a shoulder fired rocket. If notified under this new policy, Manley believes a Judge would finally grant Aref an appeal. But legal analyst Paul DerOhanessian says there would still be many road blocks in the way of proving Aref's innocence.

DerOhannesian said, "Not all improper or illegally obtained evidence results in a new trial. For example, if the information wasn't used as direct proof it may be less important a court may rule."

Another battle they'll have to fight: The clock. Both men have already served more than half of their 15 year sentences.

"Even raising this challenge can take years to go through the system," DerOhannesian said.

Manley said, "We're very hopeful after all these years the truth may finally come out."

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