A Massachusetts man who was convicted last year on terrorism charges was given an award yesterday from a Boston community church, according to a report by the MetroWest Daily News.
The Community Church of Boston granted former Sudbury resident Tarek Mehanna, 28, the 36th annual Sacco & Vanzetti Social Justice Award for what the church considered to be his struggle as a seeker of justice.
According to the report, Mehanna’s father, mother, brother and sister-in-law accepted the award on his behalf after discussions on America’s history of oppressed people.
Mehanna is serving a 17-year sentence at the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, Ind. He was convicted in 2011 on various terrorism-related charges after federal prosecutors said he traveled to Yemen to seek training in a terrorist camp in order to fight U.S. soldiers in Iraq and translated texts for terror groups.
According to the church’s website, the award has been given since 1976 “to outstanding activists in the peoples’ struggles” for “contributions to Social Justice.”
Upon convicting him, Judge George O’Toole Jr. said he was concerned about Mehanna’s apparent lack of remorse.
“He has … become consumed with religious enthusiasm that was partly admirable and partly horrifying,” O’Toole said at the April sentencing.
Throughout the trial, and since then, Mehanna’s supporters said his actions were an expression of his views, that he was researching his religion and his intentions were never to hurt anyone. His lawyers argued that his expressions in opposition to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were protected free speech.