Translation problem in connection with terrorism charges

Two mosque leaders in Albany, New York, accused of supporting terrorism, may have been the victims of a translation error, according to Yahoo News:

bq. [Prosecutors] said a word on one page, written in Arabic, referred to Aref as “commander.” In fact, the word was Kurdish, and could be translated as “brother,” according to prosecutors.

bq. Reviewing the page for the newspaper, Nijyar Shemdin, the U.S. representative for the Kurdistan Regional Government in Washington, said he did not see how a translation would have come up with the word “commander.” He also said Aref was referred to with the common honorific “kak,” which could mean brother or mister.

The New York Times also reports, with more details (this was all part of a sting operation).

bq. However, many of the conversations between the informant and the men were in Urdu, as well as in Arabic and English, and Mr. Kindlon said there might be problems with the translations of those meetings, as well.

bq. In court documents, the government provided only snippets of the conversations already translated.

Thanks to John Lynch of the Forensic Linguistics list.

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