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Tarek Mehanna loses second appeal of his terrorism conviction

Tarek Mehanna, the former Sudbury man imprisoned for plotting to help Al Qaeda and lying to the FBI, lost his most recent legal challenge to his 17½-year sentence in the high-profile case.

The US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit issued a two-paragraph ruling Friday rejecting Mehanna’s claims that his trial was flawed because prosecutors did not hand over negative information about a government witness, which could have assisted Mehanna in challenging his credibility.

“After careful consideration of each of the points raised in Mehanna’s counseled COA application, we conclude that the district court’s rejection of Mehanna’s claim . . . was neither debatable nor wrong,” the unsigned judgment reads.

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Mehanna’s attorneys were challenging US District Court Judge George A. O’Toole Jr.’s decision last year to deny Mehanna’s request that he throw out the conviction and order a new trial.

The First Circuit, in an earlier ruling, had already upheld Mehanna’s conviction and sentence. Defense attorneys then launched the second challenge, which the court has now rejected.

Federal prosecutors said during Mehanna’s 2011 trial that he traveled with an associate to Yemen in 2004 to join a terrorist training camp and ultimately attack American soldiers in Iraq, but the plan failed.

When Mehanna returned home, prosecutors said, he began translating Arab-language materials into English and posting them online to promote Al Qaeda’s ideology and to inspire others to violent jihad. Mehanna’s lawyers argued that he traveled to Yemen to pursue religious studies and that his online postings were protected by the First Amendment.

The First Circuit, in an earlier ruling, upheld Mehanna’s conviction and sentence. Defense attorneys then launched the second challenge, which the court has now rejected.

According to the US Bureau of Prisons, Mehanna is currently serving his sentence at USP Marion, a medium-security prison in Illinois. His release date is listed as Dec. 18, 2024.

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Travis Andersen can be reached at tandersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe. John R. Ellement can be reached at ellement@globe.com.