BOSTON — A Massachusetts man charged with conspiring to help al-Qaida has been portrayed by federal prosecutors as a would-be terrorist who hoped to answer a call by Osama bin Laden to kill Americans.
But defense attorneys for Tarek Mehanna described him as a young American simply venting his anger over the U.S. war in Iraq. The defense says his activities were free speech protected by the U.S. Constitution.
The vastly different descriptions were given Thursday in the opening day of his trial.
The Sudbury man is accused of trying to get training at a terrorist camp in Yemen as well as translating and distributing online publications promoting violent jihad. He also is charged with lying to federal authorities.
Several dozen of Mehanna's supporters, and some Occupy Boston protesters, came to court Thursday.
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