Seda case an indictment of our government

Pete Seda better get used to this.

When the former Ashland civic leader voluntarily returned to the United States from his native Iran to face charges related to his role as the director of an Islamic charity, he surely knew rough waters swirled ahead.

Just one day after a judge ordered Seda released, a successful appeal delayed the release for at least another week. This comes after a delay of almost two weeks following the first hearing in U.S. District Court in Eugene.

The tactics of the prosecutors to make life as miserable for Seda as possible are clear. They've transported him to and from court in leg irons, while keeping him jailed for weeks in legal hula hoops.

Consider this: At 9 a.m. the district court judge announced that he did not believe that Seda posed a risk of violence, nor a flight risk. He had turned in his passports and, oh yeah, returned to the United States voluntarily to face charges of tax evasion. Seda was asked to give more specific information about where he had been staying in exile since he fled the country in 2003. Reports of three to four hours of questioning (one can imagine how fun that might have been) were published.

After lunch Seda returned to court and learned of the decision to release him. Friends made plans to help Seda find a place to stay in Ashland, perhaps as early as that night. Prosecutors buried the judge in logistical concerns, like providing Seda with a GPS system so he can be tracked, insisting he stay within Oregon state limits and surrendering all travel documents.

Again, it is important to remember that Seda returned to the United States voluntarily to face these charges. He spent three years untouched by the federal prosecutors who seized his Ashland home and tried the case against him in the media.

Now, he is held, yet again, for baseless fears.

Sooner or later Seda will likely be released. He stands in the middle of a potentially landmark case &

one in which the government's activities investigating American citizens will be scrutinized. Seda knows well how important this case is, which is probably why he returned.

But getting to his day in court will require hardships and setbacks like those he experienced today. Whether Seda is guilty of any of the conspiracy or tax evasion charges against him is not the issue, yet. For now Seda provides us a clear, ugly portrait of how our government goes about the business of protecting us from so-called "terrorists."

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