Judge: Free rabbi after he refused to testify

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — A Los Angeles judge has ordered a Brooklyn orthodox rabbi be freed after he refused to answer questions, saying his religion forbids him from testifying against other Jews.

The Los Angeles Times reports Judge Margaret Morrow ordered Rabbi Moshe Zigelman freed Monday, after he spent seven months in a Brooklyn jail.

Zigelman was found in civil contempt in Dec. 2011 after Morrow rejected his attorney’s argument that forcing him to testify would violate his First Amendment religious freedom.

The Jewish doctrine of mesira bars Jews from informing on other Jews to secular authorities.

Zigelman had been called before a grand jury regarding an investigation into the Spinka sect, which was accused of tax fraud.

He had pleaded guilty in 2008 to criminal conspiracy and received a two-year prison sentence.

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