Kashmiri man gets U.S. prison term in lobbying case

WASHINGTON Fri Mar 30, 2012 11:55pm IST

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. judge on Friday gave an American of Kashmiri origin a two-year prison sentence after he admitted secretly receiving millions of dollars from Pakistan and its spy service while lobbying in the United States.

Syed Ghulam Nabi Fai, 62, a naturalized U.S. citizen, pleaded guilty in December to conspiracy and tax violations dating back to 1990 for a scheme to conceal some $3.5 million that came from Pakistan to fund his lobbying efforts over the disputed territory of Kashmir.

U.S. District Judge Liam O'Grady in Alexandria, Virginia, handed down the prison sentence for Fai, to be followed by three years of probation. Prosecutors had urged the judge to sentence him to four years in prison while Fai argued he should be sentenced to home confinement.

Fai served as the executive director of the Kashmiri American Council, which described itself as a nonprofit organization run by Kashmiris and funded by Americans.

But U.S. authorities have said some of the money came from Pakistan's intelligence service, known as the Inter-Services Intelligence Agency or ISI, and that he failed to register as an agent of a foreign government as required under U.S. law.

Prosecutors said Fai tried to draw the attention of U.S. officials to India's actions in the disputed territory of Kashmir and away from Pakistan's own actions in the divided mountain area. The two nations have fought two wars over it.

"Syed Fai is today being held accountable for his role in a decades-long scheme to conceal the fact that the government of Pakistan was secretly funding his efforts to influence U.S. policy on Kashmir," said Assistant Attorney General Lisa Monaco, head of the Justice Department's National Security Division.

The Pakistani government has denied any knowledge of Fai's activities.

The case is USA v Fai, in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, No. 11-cr-561.

(Reporting By James Vicini and Jeremy Pelofsky; editing by Todd Eastham)

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