6 p.m. update

EUGENE — Pete Seda still has not been forthright enough about how he financed his 4 1/2; years in the Middle East — including his time as an international fugitive — to earn his freedom while fighting conspiracy and tax-evasion charges stemming from work with his defunct Ashland charity tied to terrorism, a judge ruled today.

U.S. District Court Judge Michael Hogan declined today to release the jailed Seda until federal court officials can verify Seda's whereabouts and financial dealings while in Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia since 2003.

Hogan said in court that he wanted Seda to prove he was living clean on his own money while abroad before the judge determines whether Seda is the flight risk federal prosecutors have painted him in court.

In what amounted to Seda's fifth detention hearing, Hogan expressed exasperation over the gaps in Seda's accounting to date for his activities abroad.

"It's been like pulling teeth to get information," Hogan said. "There just hasn't been enough communication to justify the defendant's release."

Seda, wearing leg irons, was led away this afternoon from the hearing to the Lane County Jail, where he has been held since his Aug. 15 surrender to federal authorities in Portland.

Hogan's comments came after a 2 1/2;-hour hearing in which prosecutors accused Seda of possibly conducting business illegally with Iranian companies while a fugitive.

Prosecutor Chris Cardani said in court that Seda has not proven he didn't illegally take money from the parent group of his Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation chapter in Ashland while living in Middle Eastern countries that don't have an extradition agreement with the United States.

The government's February 2005 indictment charges that Seda helped his foundation partner, a Saudi Arabian national named Soliman Al-Buthi, smuggle $150,000 from Ashland to Saudi Arabia in 2000 to help Chechen Muslims whom the government has tied to international terrorism. The tax charge stems from Seda's alleged attempt to hide the smuggling by lying on the chapter's 2000 tax return.

Al-Buthi, who also faces conspiracy charges, is in Saudi Arabia, which has no extradition agreement with the United States.

Al-Buthi and the Al-Haramain chapter have been designated by U.S. officials as supporters of international terrorism. Seda has not.

1:15 p.m.

Seda returns to court today

Pete Seda spoke out against violence on Saudi Arabian television and distributed copies of his own nonviolent writings on Islam while living openly in the Middle East during his 4&

65279;1/2 years abroad, proving he's not a flight risk on pending conspiracy and tax-fraud charges, his attorney claims.

Court documents filed late Monday detail why Seda's attorneys believe he should be freed while fighting felony charges over alleged money-laundering at his Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation chapter in Ashland, which the government has tied to terrorism.

They claim Seda, 49, would be a good candidate to be released and ordered to wear a Global Positioning System bracelet.

With the bracelet, he could be tracked in real time on computers by court officials, thwarting any attempt to flee from authorities.

U.S. District Court Judge Michael Hogan will hold a fifth federal court session today in Eugene to consider federal prosecutors' request to keep Seda jailed as a flight risk pending his April 16, 2008, trial.

Seda is known as Pirouz Sedaghaty and several other alleged aliases listed in his federal indictment and his file at the Lane County Jail, where he has been held since his Aug. 15 surrender in Portland to face charges laid out in a February 2005 indictment.

Monday's filings detail previously sealed information Seda and his attorneys have supplied to federal court officials about his time abroad since 2003, when Seda left Ashland for the Middle East while his charity was under federal investigation.

The documents claim Seda flew to Saudi Arabia, where he lived in and around the capital, Riyadh. He lived in a series of apartments, but Seda did not provide specific addresses because their use is rare there, documents claim.

While in Saudi Arabia, he spoke out against violence and terrorism on Saudi Arabian television, "perhaps causing someone to spray paint on his parking space: 'AMERICA IS THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL,' " according to a court exhibit written by Seda's attorney, Larry Matasar of Portland.

Matasar claims Saudi authorities and U.S. Embassy officials considered the act a threat and that "a defendant who consistently speaks out against terrorism, despite personal risks, should not be viewed as a danger to the community."

Matasar and the chief prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Cardani, could not be reached for comment late Monday.

Seda also told court officials he moved to the United Arab Emigrates in August 2003, staying approximately 18 months, filings show. He was there in February 2004 when federal agents raided his Al-Haramain headquarters/residence in Ashland.

A month before that raid, Seda sought and received permission from the Saudi and UAE governments to distribute about 70,000 copies of his book, "Islam Is," in those two countries. That book attempts to describe Islam to Westerners and stresses non-violence, Matasar wrote.

Sometime during the month he was indicted, Seda moved to Tehran, the capital of his native Iran, for almost two years before relocating to Damascus, Syria, the exhibit claims. He remained there until flying to Frankfurt, Germany, on Aug. 14, then heading to Portland the next day to surrender, according to the exhibit.

In court filings, Seda claims to have financed his time abroad on "maxed-out" credit cards and from proceeds from the 2001 sale of what prosecutors said was an Ashland home that netted Seda less than $78,000.

Court filings did not specify what jobs Seda held while abroad, saying only that he "could not find good work," according to an e-mail Matasar wrote to the federal court's pretrial services officer in Eugene.

Prosecutors in court have claimed they have information that Seda, a former Ashland arborist, once sold cars in Syria.

Prosecutors have argued that Seda's multiple U.S. and Iranian passports showing different birth dates make his truthfulness suspect and have said in court they don't know whether other passports were accessible to Seda, an Iranian national who was naturalized here in 1994.

In court filings, Matasar argued that it was natural for U.S. immigrants to have different dates of birth in their home country and the U.S. Also, Matasar wrote, the different dates of birth on his Iranian and U.S. passports appeared before he became an international fugitive in February 2005.

The indictment charges that Seda helped his foundation partner, a Saudi Arabian national named Soliman Al-Buthi, smuggle $150,000 from Ashland to Saudi Arabia in 2000 to help Chechen Muslims the government has tied to international terrorism. The tax charge stems from Seda's alleged attempt to hide the smuggling by lying on the chapter's 2000 tax return.

Al-Buthi, who also faces conspiracy charges, is in Saudi Arabia, which has no extradition agreement with the United States.

Al-Buthi and the Al-Haramain chapter have been designated by U.S. officials as supporters of international terrorism. Seda has not.

In Monday's court filing, Matasar asserted that Seda "has strong defenses to the government's allegations," but he did not elaborate.