“You can get something wrong and it’s not a lie.” But it might be. “NYC retrial for San Diego man linked to 9/11 hijacker,” by Tom Hays for The Associated Press, :
NEW YORK (AP) “” The protracted perjury case of a San Diego man linked to the Sept. 11 hijackers “” tossed out, reinstated and subject of a mistrial “” resurfaced on Thursday with conflicting portrayals of the defendant: blatant liar or bewildered bystander.
In opening statements at the retrial of Osama Awadallah, prosecutor Brendan McGuire told jurors the defendant lied repeatedly under oath while testifying before a grand jury investigating the 2001 terrorist attacks.
“He lied about knowing one of the hijackers on Flight 77 “” the plane that crashed into the Pentagon,” McGuire said in federal court in Manhattan.
Defense attorney Jesse Berman countered by insisting his client never meant to mislead investigators. “You can get something wrong and it’s not a lie,” he said.
Awadallah, 25, was detained as a material witness in San Diego, where he was attending college, on Sept. 20, 2001 after investigators found an old phone number of his in the car of hijacker Nawaf al-Hazmi.
Under questioning by the FBI, Awadallah “” born to a Palestinian father, raised in Jordan and in the United States legally “” acknowledged having a passing acquaintance with al-Hazmi, who worked at the same gas station and worshipped at the same mosque. But during hours of follow-up grand jury testimony, he “flatly denied” to a grand jury that he knew al-Hazmi’s friend and fellow hijacker, Khalid al-Mihdhar, McGuire said.
The prosecutor said that once confronted with a notebook in which he had written down al-Mihdhar’s name, Awadallah changed his story and admitted he had met the hijacker “” a deception that hindered a grand jury that “was trying to identify who carried out the attacks and if it could happen again.”
Berman claimed that, at the time, his client was “confused, exhausted and paranoid” from being thrown behind bars without explanation and “treated like the worst, hardened criminal.” During a second session with the grand jury, he had a clearer memory and sought to correct his testimony, the lawyer said.
The hijackers “were nothing to him,” Berman said. “He had no reason to conceal the name.”