Attorneys for Imaad Shah Zuberi in a motion for release pending appeal said that while the idea that Zuberi engaged in obstruction of justice was tied to the notion that he had deleted emails which might have been relevant to a government probe, the prosecution had been "aware from the defense" that a government agency deleted communications from devices that Zuberi owned or utilized.
The filing also states that the agency instructed Zuberi to delete other emails, while cognizant of the fact that he was facing a criminal investigation.
"Here, the government's position on obstruction of justice, and consequent lack of acceptance of responsibility, rested heavily on the argument that Zuberi deleted emails that were potentially relevant to the government’s investigation, and that he did so specifically intending to obstruct that investigation," the filing states. "But in September 2020, the prosecution became aware from the defense that during meetings with the defendant, an agency of the United States deleted electronic communications potentially relevant to the government's investigation from devices owned or used by Zuberi. That same agency directed Zuberi to delete other emails, knowing that Zuberi was under criminal investigation. These actions and directions from the U.S. government led to deletion of emails that were potentially relevant to the investigation and helpful to the defendant."
"Both the government's inducement of Zuberi's plea with an illusory promise and its persistence in arguing Zuberi obstructed justice by deleting emails even after conceding he did so at the government's direction support withdrawal of Zuberi's plea," the filing states.
The Justice Department in February announced that Zuberi had been sentenced to serve 12 years in federal prison. But Zuberi is seeking to appeal his conviction on a plea deal with federal prosecutors.
"In November 2019, Zuberi pleaded guilty to a three-count information charging him with violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) by making false statements on a FARA filing, tax evasion, and making illegal campaign contributions. In June 2020, Zuberi pleaded guilty in a separate case to one count of obstruction of justice," the DOJ noted.