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Defense opens in Seda trial

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — The attorneys for a man accused of using an Islamic charity to smuggle money to Muslim fighters in Chechnya have opened their defense by calling a military expert and two members of Ashland's religious community.

Pete Seda is on trial in U.S. District Court on charges he and a fellow officer of the U.S. branch of the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation smuggled $150,000 to Saudi Arabia in March 2000 in hopes the money would reach mujahedeen in Chechnya.

But Col. W. Patrick Lang testified Friday the organization was under tight Saudi control, and the Saudis wouldn't use a U.S. charity to route money to Chechnyans.

A rabbi and Methodist pastor from Ashland testified that Seda rejected violent interpretations of the Quran.