Attorney questions whether Nagi can get a fair trial

Aug 17, 2015

A preliminary hearing was held in federal court Monday for alleged ISIL sympathizer Arafat Nagi. Nagi was detained in late July after his Lackawanna home was raided. Authorities say he was attempting to join and recruit for the notorious terrorist organization.

Prosecutors say Nagi espoused "violent jihad" and was preparing to travel Turkey for a third time to join the self-proclaimed Islamic State. He has pleaded not guilty to two counts. 

Defense attorney Jeremy Schwartz says depending on the legal process, he may consider requesting a change in venue.
Credit Chris Caya/WBFO News

Nagi's defense attorney, Jeremy Schwartz says he has concerns about his client getting a fair trial and may seek a change in venue.

"Usually we have to go through the jury selection process to determine whether that is possible. If we find that it's taking too long to select appropriate jurors or there aren't people that are willing to be fair, we will seek a change of venue," Schwartz said.

"I think racial, religious issues might come up that we're concerned about," he added.

Schwartz has requested, and was granted, a mental competency evaluation for Nagi, who faces up to 15 years in prison, if convicted. The defense attorney says "certain communications" gave him "concerns" about Nagi's mental competency. In court Monday, the federal prosecutor said he would request 14 warrants for electronic devices.

Nagi remains in custody. If the case goes to trial, the soonest that might happen would be April of 2016.