U.S. District Judge Janet Neff in Grand Rapids said most of the government’s case against Raogo Ouedraogo was based on his friendship with Rami Saba. Saba was sentenced in September to more than 30 years in prison for kidnapping 66-year-old Donald Dietz of the Ionia County community of Saranac.
Dietz hasn’t been seen in four years and is presumed dead.
U.S. attorney’s office spokeswoman Kaye Hooker said prosecutors plan to appeal.
Ouedraogo was a researcher at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia when he was arrested in 2009. He and Saba were college pals in Europe.