The publisher of an Arabic newspaper accused of spying for Saddam Hussein pleaded innocent Friday, and his defense attorney sought to bow out of the case over money problems. His client has heart as well as criminal problems

Khaled Dumeisi appeared before U.S. District Judge Suzanne B. Conlon for the first time since late July, when he was taken from prison to a hospital with heart trouble.

Dumeisi, 61, is accused of spying on Iraqi dissidents in the United States. He isn’t charged with espionage, a crime that pertains only to spying on U.S. defense secrets. He’s charged with failing to register as a foreign agent and could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

Prosecutors say Dumeisi reported to Iraqi intelligence agents attached to Hussein’s United Nations mission, and documents concerning his activities within the U.S. were seized from a Baghdad safe house as American tanks were rolling into the Iraqi capital.

Defense attorney James Fennerty asked Conlon for permission to bow out of the case, saying he couldn’t afford to represent Dumeisi.

He said an adequate defense would require as much as 1,500 hours of work by a lawyer. Dumeisi has no way of paying for such a defense and has been unable to raise funds from within the Arab-American community, Fennerty said. Many in the community believe they might come under government scrutiny if they contribute to such a fund, he said.

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