Flag-burning suspects called pranksters | VailDaily.com

Flag-burning suspects called pranksters

NEW HAVEN, Conn. ” Three Yale University students arrested in the torching of an American flag on a front porch were not trying to make a political statement, their attorney said Thursday.

Said Hyder Akbar, 23, Nikolaos Angelopoulos, 19, and Farhad Anklesaria, 19, were charged with arson, reckless endangerment and other crimes.

Akbar ” who translated for U.S. troops in Afghanistan and testified at the trial of a former CIA contractor convicted in a detainee’s death ” set the flag ablaze, attorney William Dow said. The other two students maintain their innocence, he said.

“There was absolutely no political motivation. It was a foolish college prank, which (Akbar) regrets and for which he intends to apologize,” Dow said.

Akbar is a U.S. citizen born in Pakistan. His father was a spokesman for the Afghan president and served as a regional governor.

Akbar worked as an informal translator for U.S. forces during the invasion of Afghanistan and published a memoir, “Come Back to Afghanistan.”

“He’s an ardent supporter of the United States’ position in Afghanistan by word and deed,” Dow said.

The three were arrested early Tuesday morning after officers on patrol spotted the burning flag and tore it from pole where it was mounted to the house, police said.

The three each posted bond later in the day.

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