Leesburg Man Gets 18 Months for Feeding Information to Syria
U.S. Attorney's Office says resident sent surveillance to Syrian Intelligence Agencies
A 48-year-old Leesburg man will serve 18 months in prison for acting as an agent of the Syrian government, a role in which he collected audio, video and other information about those protesting the country's crackdown and sent it to Syrian intelligence agencies that then used it to harass and intimidate the protestors.
Mohamad Anas Haitham Soueid, a native Syrian and naturalized U.S. citizen, will undergo another three years of supervised release following his sentence, United States Attorney Neil H. MacBride, of the Eastern District of Virginia, said in a statement following Soueid's sentencing Friday.
In the statement, MacBride, whose office investigated the case with FBI’s Washington Field Office and the Loudon County Sheriff’s Office, said “Mr. Soueid betrayed this country to work on behalf of a state sponsor of terror. ... While the autocratic Syrian regime killed, kidnapped, intimidated and silenced thousands of its own citizens, Mr. Soueid spearheaded efforts to identify and intimidate those protesting against the Syrian government in the United States.”
A federal jury charged Soueid with six violatons in October 2011; he was convicted of unlawfully acting as an agent of a foreign government in March 2012, according to the statement.
The U.S. has considered Syria a sponsor of terrorism since 1979. Soueid did not, as obligated by law, inform U.S. government agencies of his correspondence with the country, according to the investigation.
Soueid, who also went by “Alex Soueid” or “Anas Alswaid,” worked for Syria's government between March and October 2011, according to the U.S. Attorney's office. The investigation documented written correspondence between Soueid and the country, in which the man said he supported Syria's "repression of its citizens" with violence and home invasions, among other methods.
Soueid went to great lengths to protect and destroy evidence of his relationship with the country: He destroyed a computer the country issued him to complete his work and lied to both Customs and Border Patrol after Syria paid for him to visit President al-Assad, and, FBI agents who interviewed him in August 2011.
According to the investigation, Soueid also destroyed incriminating documents in his back yard and alerted Syria after his interview with the FBI.