Lawyers for a Virginia man serving a life sentence for supporting jihad against the United States pushed Friday to pry more information out of the federal government about the possibility that cleric Anwar Al-Awlaki may have been recruited as a government informant a decade ago.

During a federal court hearing in Alexandria, Va., U.S. District Court Judge Leonie Brinkema didn’t sound inclined to grant motions by former cancer researcher and Muslim scholar Ali Al-Timimi seeking more details on the government’s relationship with Al-Awlaki, as well as other facts Al-Timimi’s lawyers say were withheld prior to and during his 2005 trial on charges such as aiding the Taliban and soliciting treason.

Al-Timimi lawyer Jonathan Turley said Al-Awlaki, who was killed by a U.S. drone strike in Yemen in 2011, visited Al-Timimi at his home in October 2002 and “encouraged him to recruit….and actually raised issues of possible terrorist acts.” The defense lawyer said that recently-released FBI files suggest that Al-Awlaki may have been acting as an “asset” for some government agency when he returned to the U.S. from abroad just prior to his meeting with Al-Timimi.

There was an outstanding warrant for Al-Awlaki’s arrest on a fraud charge when he flew back into the U.S. in 2002, but he was admitted at JFK airport in New York after only a short delay.

However, prosecutor Gordon Kromberg insisted that the government turned over all information it was obligated to prior to Al-Timimi’s trial and had no duty to detail its dealings with Al-Awlaki.

“Mr. Turley has no right to know [whether the government] had an asset into Awlaki at that time. Mr. Turley has no right to know if Mr. Awlaki was an asset at that time,” Kromberg told Brinkema. The prosecutor did say the government had no recording of the meeting and Al-Timimi’s defense was told that prior to his trial. “I don’t know what happened at that meeting,” Kromberg said.

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