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Virginia Man Charged With Spying for Syrian Regime

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Supporters of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad hold his picture during a pro-regime rally in Damascus on Oct. 12, 2011. (credit: LOUAI BESHARA/AFP/Getty Images)

Supporters of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad hold his picture during a pro-regime rally in Damascus on Oct. 12, 2011. (credit: LOUAI BESHARA/AFP/Getty Images)

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McLEAN, Va. (AP) — A Syrian-born, naturalized U.S. citizen has been indicted on charges of spying on U.S. activists opposed to the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and providing intelligence to that country’s intelligence agents.

According to an indictment unsealed Wednesday, Mohamad Soueid (SWAYD) of Leesburg, Va., was arrested Tuesday and charged with conspiring to act in the U.S. as an agent of a foreign government. Soueid was scheduled to make an initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Alexandria on Wednesday afternoon.

According to the indictment, Soueid sent 20 audio and video recordings between April and June to Syrian’s intelligence agency. They depict protests in this country against the Syrian regime, which has cracked down ruthlessly on anti-government protesters there.

The indictment also states that Soueid traveled to Syria in June to meet with al-Assad personally.

Soueid also tried to recruit others to monitor anti-Assad rallies and protests in the U.S., according to the indictment.

Soueid is also charged with making false statements for allegedly lying about his activities for the Mukhabarat, Syria’s intelligence agency, when interviewed in August by the FBI.

“The ability to assemble and protest is a cherished right in the United States, and it’s troubling that a U.S. citizen from Leesburg is accused of working with the Syrian government to identify and intimidate those who exercise that right,” said U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Neil MacBride, whose office is prosecuting the case. “Spying for another country is a serious threat to our national security, especially when it threatens the ability of U.S. citizens to engage in political speech within our own borders.”

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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