By Daniel Tencer
October 11th, 2009
A Detroit-area businesswoman serving a six-year sentence in federal prison for selling goods to Iraq during the embargo against Saddam Hussein was unwittingly working for the CIA, the woman's supporters say.
According to NBC affiliate WDIV, Dawn Hanna of Rochester Hills, Michigan, was working for a CIA contractor when she arranged for telecommunications equipment to be sent to the Middle East in 2002 and 2003.
The person claiming to be that contractor, Emad Al-Yawer, says that he was working on a CIA plan to sell communications equipment to Saddam Hussein that would be bugged with espionage instruments. The plan was for the agency to locate and kill the Iraqi dictator.
"The whole idea was, once they get to Saddam, send a smart bomb and blow him [to] smithereens," Al-Yawer told WDIV. Al-Yawer's Jordanian company, Advanced Technical Systems, was the partner with whom Hanna worked to deliver the communications equipment.
What's more, Al-Yawer says Hanna didn't know the equipment was headed to Iraq; he had told her it was to fulfill a contract with a Turkish company. That claim matches Hanna's defense in her trial.
In an affidavit (PDF), Al-Yawer, whose name has been removed from the publicly available version of the document, said he had told federal agents investigating Hanna that she had no knowledge of the communication equipment's final destination.
But, as WDIV noted, the judge found this new information "not important enough" to warrant a new trial.
Hanna -- who was in charge of sales for her family company, Technology Integration Group Services -- was convicted last year on eight criminal counts, including conspiracy, violation of the trade embargo and money laundering. Her brother Darrin, who was also charged but acquitted on lack of evidence, says the prosecution "carved out" the story the jury wanted to hear.
Prosecutors "made up a whole different story," Darrin Hanna said. "It's absolutely awful. It's un-American."
According to Justice for Dawn Hanna, a Web site for Hanna's supporters, "the prosecutors in the case, Barbara McQuade and Michael Martin, hid the ... facts from the defense and, instead, prosecuted the case as if Dawn knew that the brokered equipment was headed to Iraq and wanted to help Saddam Hussein ... the exact opposite of the truth."
But, as a news report at Crain's Detroit Business states, the prosecution presented evidence that Hanna had discussed the legality of the sale with her Jordanian client.
"The jury concluded the defendant was guilty of intentionally violating the trade embargo with Iraq, that she had specific knowledge of that, and that essentially her defense regarding Turkey was not true," US Attorney Terence Berg told WDIV.
But Al-Yawer claims Hanna had no idea the equipment was headed to Iraq. "Never, at any time, did I mention to Dawn or anyone else where it's going," he told WDIV. He claims "it was his responsibility to lie, cheat and steal, if necessary, to get the equipment into Saddam's hands," the station reported.
Al-Yawer expressed shock that an American citizen could be locked up for unknowingly working for the CIA.
"You only get this [kind of thing] in third-world countries," Al-Yawer said. "Not countries that carry [the symbols] of liberty and freedom."