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Terrorism Defendant Argues Free Speech Defense

Opening statements began Thursday in the trial of a Massachusetts man accused, among other things, of distributing propaganda for al-Qaida on his blog. Prosecutors say 29-year-old Tarek Mehanna became an online operative for al-Qaida after he was unable to get into a terrorist training camp in Yemen. The defense says Mehanna, who is an American, was just exercising his right to free speech. While that kind of defense is unusual in terrorism trials, there is a 2004 case in Idaho that suggests a First Amendment defense could be a winning strategy.