Woman walks, paddles from Albany to Binghamton in protest

By Kelly McCarthy

July 23, 2013 Updated Jul 24, 2013 at 12:50 AM EDT

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) After a 133-mile journey on foot and by canoe, a woman arrived in Binghamton to hand deliver a petition to the federal courthouse downtown.

Supporters are bringing awareness to the case of a man who they says was wrongly convicted in a terror plot in Albany.

Yassin Aref was convicted in 2006 of financing the purchase of a missile for Al Qaeda. But supporters say he's innocent, and that it's a case of mistaken identity.

Aref got more information about his case through the Freedom of Information Act, including documents referring to him as an Al Qaeda agent named Mohammed Yassin.

Lynne Jackson led the movement to bring this new information to court. They gathered 1,715 signatures on the petition while Aref filed an appeal from prison.

Jackson said the high temperatures last week slowed her trek, forcing her and four others to canoe down the Susquehanna River to make up time.

"And I thought," Jackson said, "If I just drove it down no one's ever going to know, you know collect a few signatures, go drop it off at the courthouse and no one knows about the case."

Jackson completed a 10-day trek from Albany to help a man she has never met.

"I've never met Yassin Aref in person," Jackson said. "However, I've written letters to him, I've emailed him, I've spoken to him on the phone, but I never actually met him because I didn't know about the case until after his arrest."

Aref is currently serving a 15-year sentence at a federal prison in Pennsylvania. He wrote to Jackson saying he would be walking as many of the miles he could in prison.

The petition is going to Judge Thomas McAvoy. The case was heard in Albany, but McAvoy's home court is in Binghamton.