TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — One of four men accused of raising money for a former al-Qaida leader can remain free on bond after it turned out a GPS glitch made it look like he had violated terms of his release, a federal judge in Ohio said Tuesday.
Federal prosecutors wanted Sultane Room Salim sent back to prison after saying it appeared he had briefly left a Columbus mosque during prayer services in January while he was out on bond.
U.S. marshals took Salim into custody in early February.
But U.S. District Judge Jack Zouhary noted that an official with the company that provided the GPS device concluded it had malfunctioned and there was no evidence Salim left the mosque.
Court officials in charge of monitoring Salim said he also stayed in the mosque's parking lot for close to 20 minutes another time in January. But the judge said that incident was a minor violation and did not warrant returning Salim to prison.
Federal prosecutors did not object to the judge's decision to drop their request to revoke Salim's bond.
His attorney, Cherrefe Kadri, said she was frustrated that it took two weeks to figure out that the device had a glitch that put Salim back in jail. She said it became obvious something was wrong when the GPS showed him to be in several places at once and moving in directions and speeds that aren't possible.
Salim was released from prison in November on a $500,000 property bond. Another judge ordered him to live with his wife and mother in the Cambridge area of eastern Ohio while awaiting trial.
His attorneys have denied his involvement in what prosecutors say was an effort to raise money for al-Qaida leader Anwar al-Awlaki.
U.S. officials considered al-Awlaki, who was killed by an unmanned U.S. drone in Yemen in 2011, to be an inspirational leader of al-Qaida, and linked him to the planning and execution of several attacks targeting American and Western interests, including the 2009 Christmas Day bombing attempt on a Detroit-bound airliner.
The three other suspects accused of raising money for al-Awlaki remain in jail, including Salim's brother.