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Wife of terrorism convict pleads guilty; will have to leave U.S.

From Carol Cratty, CNN
  • The woman admits lying to federal investigator about her husband
  • Her plea agreement call for her to leave the country within 120 days
  • Her husband pleaded guilty to aiding terrorists, other charges

Alexandria, Virginia (CNN) -- The Ugandan wife of an American-born man who pleaded guilty to providing material support to terrorists entered her own guilty plea on Monday.

Proscovia Kampire Nzabanita, dressed head-to-toe in conservative Muslim dress with her face covered, pleaded guilty to making a false statement when questioned by a federal investigator about her husband, Zachary Chesser.

Chesser, 20, was accused of posting an online attack against the creators of the animated TV series "South Park" due to the program's depiction of the Prophet Mohammed.

On October 20, Chesser agreed to plead guilty to the terrorist support charge, as well as charges of communicating threats and soliciting crimes of violence. He will be sentenced in January, and is expected to receive a sentence of at least 20 years in prison.

As part of Chesser's plea agreement, federal authorities agreed not to seek charges of aiding and abetting against Nzabanita, 26, who faces sentencing on January 28 for her guilty plea Monday.

According to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's office for the Eastern District of Virginia, Nzabanita will serve no prison time but must leave the United States within 120 days and give up her legal status.

Federal Judge Gerald Bruce Lee allowed Nzabanita to remain free on bail of $250,000 and ordered that she reside with her mother as her guardian until the sentencing.

The news release from the U.S. Attorney's office said Nzabanita was questioned on July 21 by a Secret Service special agent outside her residence in northern Virginia.

In her plea agreement, Nzabanita admitted she lied in that interview by saying Chesser had attempted to fly to Uganda on July 10 to retriever her birth certificate, according to the news release. In reality, Chesser planned to ultimately make his way to Somalia to help the terrorist group al-Shabaab, the news release said.

According to an affidavit, Chesser tried to take his infant son with him on the trip, telling his wife it was part of his "cover" to make it less likely anyone would suspect he was trying to go to Somalia to join al-Shabaab.

Court documents said Chesser was not allowed to depart the country July 10 but was told by the airline he was on the "no-fly list" and was questioned by a Secret Service agent.

Prosecutors also said Chesser, of Fairfax County, Virginia, had exchanged e-mails with Yemeni-American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, whose name has been linked to an attack and an attempted attack on the United States.