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Ex-Obama aide Stuart Seldowitz given supervised release

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Ex-Obama aide Stuart Seldowitz was cut loose Thursday after being charged with a hate crime for directing a now-viral Islamophobic rant at a Big Apple halal cart vendor.

The court let Seldowitz, 64, walk on supervised release after charging him with two counts of stalking as a hate crime and one count of aggravated harassment at his Thanksgiving Day arraignment, according to the criminal complaint.

The verbal assault — in which Seldowitz told Upper East Side vendor Mohamed Hussein he was a terrorist and supported killing kids, among other things — was “unprovoked and unwarranted,” Assistant District Attorney Jordan Gwynn told the court.

But the former diplomat’s attorney, Scott Bookstein, claimed his client was “not a warmonger and an Islamophobe” despite his shocking rant.

“He’s a peace-loving person, devoid of hate from Muslims or anyone else,” Bookstein said, adding the allegations contained “a lot of ugly words.”

“I want the court, the prosecution, the media and the public to know that the allegations attributed to my client are 100% antithetical to who Stuart Seldowitz is — what his core beliefs are,” Bookstein told Manhattan Criminal Court Judge James Clynes.

Stuart Seldowitz was cut loose Thursday after being charged with a hate crime.
Gabriella Bass
The court let Seldowitz, 64, walk on supervised release after charging him with two counts of stalking as a hate crime.
Gabriella Bass
Seldowitz leaves Manhattan Criminal Court on Thursday.
Gabriella Bass
Seldowitz as he’s walked out of the 19th Precinct in NYC on Wednesday evening.
Christopher Sadowski

However, the videotape showed something entirely different.

The former diplomat — who worked under five presidents and once served as President Obama’s former National Security Council chief — repeatedly unleashed a torrent of abuse at the 24-year-old street vendor as he manned the grill at the Q Halal Cart between Nov. 7 and Nov. 19, prosecutors said.

In one of the recordings, Seldowitz called the young man a “terrorist” and asked him, “Did you rape your daughter like Mohammed did?”

Hussein, who has worked at the cart on East 83rd Street and Second Avenue for the past year, repeatedly begs Seldowitz to leave him alone in one clip.

Prosecutors say Seldowitz kept coming back and harassing the vendor, who thought at first he was dealing with a homeless person.
X / @itslaylas

“Mohamed’s a little scared, he’s a little worried — especially after finding out this guy used to work for the government,” Islam Moustafa, the cart’s owner, told The Post.

“How do you ask a little 24-year-old if he ever raped his daughter?” he continued. “He’s an ex-government official, he worked for the Obama administration, he’s not a nobody.”

Seldowitz harassed the man four times between Nov. 7 and Nov. 19, prosecutors said.
X / @itslaylas
Mohamed Hussein, 24, (right) and his boss, Islam Moustafa (left) want to sue the ex-diplomat.
Matthew McDermott
Hussein, originally from Egypt, has worked at the cart on 83rd Street and 2nd Avenue for the past year.
Matthew McDermott

That apparently didn’t stop Seldowitz, an Upper East Side resident who allegedly went after the young man four different times.

“You don’t speak English?” Gwynn read to a hushed audience, quoting Seldowitz’s words as the defendant stood handcuffed before the court.

“That’s too bad—that’s why you’re selling food in a food cart.’”

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office asked for a full protection order against Seldowitz, which the judge granted.

Seldowitz refused to comment after the hearing when asked why he kept going back to the same vendor and abusing him.

In the clips, Hussein can be heard repeatedly begging Seldowitz to leave him alone.
Matthew McDermott

Seldowitz, who also worked in the early 2000s as a senior political officer in the US State Department’s Office of Israel and Palestinian Affairs, admitted earlier this week that he was the man in the viral videos, which were posted on X.

“I did have an argument with a food vendor,” he told City & State late Tuesday. “It is quite possible that it’s me. I mean, I’ve not seen the video, but I believe it’s probably me.”

“I regret the whole thing happened and I’m sorry,” he added. “But you know, in the heat of the moment, I said things that probably I shouldn’t have said.”

Still, Seldowitz denied being “an Islamophobic guy.”

But that didn’t persuade Gotham Government Relations, the lobbying firm where Seldowitz worked as a consultant.

The company cut ties with him, and said in a statement that his actions were “vile, racist, and beneath the dignity of the standards we practice at our firm.”

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