The Somali man known as the “Christmas tree bomber” will have his appeal argued Wednesday in Portland.

Mohamed Mohamud is serving a long prison sentence for attempting to bomb Portland’s Pioneer Courthouse Square in November 2010 as thousands gathered at a tree lighting ceremony. But they were fake explosives given to Mohamud as part of an undercover sting operation.

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A courtroom sketch of Mohamed Mohamud, who was convicted for plotting to bomb Portland’s holiday tree-lighting ceremony in 2010.

A courtroom sketch of Mohamed Mohamud, who was convicted for plotting to bomb Portland’s holiday tree-lighting ceremony in 2010.

Sketch by Deborah Marble

Mohamud's lawyers have argued it was a setup. Their appeal brief contends prosecutors improperly downplayed possible entrapment and biased the jury, including by concealing the identities of federal agents. What prosecutors call a terrorist plot, defense attorneys say was "false bravado."

Federal prosecutors argue Mohamud came up with the 2010 plot, and couldn't be deterred. Their briefs say the district court "conducted the trial in a manner that was fair."

The American Civil Liberties Union is weighing in, too, seeing Mohamud's case as a way to challenge federal surveillance practices.

The ACLU is arguing that the government, through the NSA, took advantage of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to gather evidence against Mohamud without a search warrant.

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