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Judge orders Ujaama held until trial


SEATTLE, Washington (CNN) -- A federal judge Wednesday ordered Earnest James Ujaama held until his trial on terrorism charges, despite arguments by his attorneys that he is not a threat and is living in poor conditions in prison.

Rejecting his attorneys' appeal of a lower court ruling denying Ujaama's release, U.S. District Judge Barbara Rothstein sided with prosecutors who believe the former Seattle man had ties to terrorists and would likely flee to Canada if freed.

Rothstein said the defense did not present acceptable evidence to the contrary.

A federal grand jury in Seattle indicted Ujaama, a U.S. citizen, in August after an investigation into the activities and members of a now-defunct Seattle mosque. He denied any links to terrorism.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Hamilton said Ujaama studied under radical London cleric Abu Hamza, trained at an al Qaeda camp in Afghanistan, and "assisted the enemy."

Defense attorney Bob Mahler said there was no evidence to support Hamilton's claims and that the United States was relying on "alleged confidential informants" to build their case.

Mahler said Ujaama was a positive influence in the Seattle community in the 1980s and '90s, talking to youths about the "American dream" and advising at-risk youths not to abuse drugs or alcohol.

Ujaama is known in Seattle for his work with the poor and for promoting entrepreneurship, having written three books on the subject. A 1991 profile in The Seattle Times called him a role model.

Mahler cited letters from community leaders vouching for Ujaama's good will. In one letter Ujaama's grandmother wrote: "James may be many things, but he's not a terrorist."

Defense attorneys promised that if released Ujaama would wear electronic monitors and stay at his grandmother's house.

In a hearing October 1, U.S. Magistrate Judge John Weinberg tossed aside those arguments, saying all the documentation supported Ujaama's activities through 1997 and that "people change."

"The government submitted persuasive evidence," Weinberg said, that Ujaama directly assisted in setting up a terrorist training camp in Bly, Oregon -- as cited in his indictment -- and that he set up a Web site promoting "the terrorist agenda."

Weinberg said there was evidence showing Ujaama exhibited "dangerous conduct in the past several years."

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