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Pakistani Court Seeks Life Imprisonment for Five Americans

One of the convicted American Muslims looking out from a prison van in Sargodha, Pakistan (file photo)

A Pakistani court said Monday it has accepted a government prosecutor's request to seek life in prison for five Americans Muslims already jailed on terror convictions.

The men, all in their early 20s, were found guilty last June by a court in the eastern city of Sargodha and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Deputy prosecutor Rana Bahktiar told VOA the prosecution is seeking a tougher sentence on behalf of the Punjab provincial government because the initial sentence was too light.

All five men have appealed, but no date has been set for a hearing.

The court says it will simultaneously consider both the appeal and the prosecutor's request for life sentences.

The young men were convicted of criminal conspiring to commit terrorism and raising funds for banned organizations. The anti-terrorism court acquitted them on three other charges, including waging war against Pakistan.

The Pakistani government accused the men of plotting attacks in the country and of seeking to join militants fighting in neighboring Afghanistan.

The Americans, all from the Washington D.C. area, have said they are innocent, and that they were only trying to join humanitarian aid projects in Afghanistan. They also say they were tortured by U.S. and Pakistani authorities while in detention, an allegation denied by officials in both countries.

Two of the Americans are of Pakistani descent and the others are of Egyptian, Eritrean and Yemeni origin.

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