updated 3/4/2009 7:48:25 PM ET 2009-03-05T00:48:25

A federal judge on Wednesday threw out a conviction against a former Navy sailor accused of passing along information about ship movements, dealing a post-mortem blow to a Bush administration that had praised the case as a success.

U.S. District Judge Mark Kravitz overturned last year's conviction of Hassan Abu-Jihaad, of Phoenix, on a charge of providing material support to terrorists, citing the language of the law. He upheld his conviction for disclosing classified national defense information.

Abu-Jihaad was a signalman aboard the USS Benfold. He was accused of passing along information including the makeup of his Navy battle group and a drawing of the formation the group would use to pass through the dangerous Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf in April 2001.

The ship was not attacked.

Kravitz said that Abu-Jihaad received a fair trial. But he said he was overturning one of the convictions "for reasons largely related to the language" of the law.

Dan LaBelle, Abu-Jihaad's attorney, said the ruling pleased him. "It's very thorough and thoughtful," he said.

Prosecutors reviewing latest ruling
Abu-Jihaad's conviction was hailed last year by top national security officials and federal investigators as a model of cooperation among government agencies. Prosecutors say they are reviewing the latest ruling.

Abu-Jihaad, who was honorably discharged in 2002, faced up to 10 years in prison on each count. He sought a new trial in October, saying prosecutors lacked evidence and inflamed the jury by playing videos he bought that promoted violent jihad, or holy war.

Prosecutors say investigators discovered files on a computer disk recovered from a suspected terrorist supporter's home in London that included the ship movements, as well as the number and type of personnel on each ship and the ships' capabilities.

Abu-Jihaad was charged in the same case that led to the 2004 arrest of Babar Ahmad, a British computer specialist accused of running Web sites to raise money, appeal for fighters and provide equipment such as gas masks and night vision goggles to terrorists.

Ahmad, who lived with his parents, where the computer file was allegedly found, and was arrested in London, is to be extradited to the U.S.

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