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Alleged Iraqi Espionage in the Valley

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Photo by decadentyou via Flickr

The Daily News has aninteresting and thorough report on an alleged Iraqi spy living in Canoga Park, a neighborhood in the Northwest Valley.

William Shaoul Benjamin, 65, an Iraqi-born naturalized U.S. citizen, goes on trial today on federal charges that he failed to "register, as required by law, as an agent for executed Iraq leader Saddam Hussein's feared intelligence service, whose leaders are believed by U.S. officials to have played central roles in the reported links between Saddam and al-Qaida." If convicted of four criminal counts related to his alleged spying case - including lying on his application for U.S. citizenship in 2001 - Benjamin faces 20 years in prison and possible deportation to his homeland.

Beyond the lede, it's chock full with some great quotes and interesting facts.Such as this: cover story or Valley Republican?
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"He is the least likeliest person you would expect to find as an enemy of the United States," said his lawyer, James Edward Blatt. "He isn't a Muslim. He's a Christian, and he loves this country, and he loves George Bush. It makes no sense."

Earlier in the story, the exact block he lives on is mentioned:

Benjamin declined to be interviewed for this story. [Benamin's Lawyer, James Edward] Blatt, who said Benjamin and his family are concerned for their safety, declined to discuss details of the case.

Talk about thorough payment:

The indictment also alleges that Benjamin went to Iraq for training from the Iraqi Intelligence Service and met with Mukhabarat [Iraqi Intelligence Service] officers in Iraq and Tunisia. He allegedly was paid $8,500 and two bottles of whiskey.

You're a spy, but we trust you.
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Since his indictment, he has been free on $500,000 bail plus house confinement, monitored by an electronic device on his ankle. He is allowed to leave his home for medical or legal appointments, as well as other approved requests

Read Tony Castro's full story at the Daily News.