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2001-11-29

Thousands of Detainees and Held in Secret Have Little Or No Connection to Terrorism: Aroundtable Discussion On the Cases of Detainees and Their Treatment in Prison

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The nationwide search for terrorists after Sept. 11 has resulted in the arrests of more than 1,200 people, but lawenforcement officials said yesterday that only a small number of those detained are believed to have any links toterrorism. The approximately 600 people still in custody are mostly being held on immigration violations or unrelatedcrimes.

Meanwhile, the Justice Department has quietly expanded its power to detain foreigners, letting the government keep aforeigner behind bars even after a federal immigration judge has ordered him to be released for lack of evidence.The change allows the Immigration and Naturalization Service to set aside any release order issued by an immigrationjudge in cases where the agency says it believes that a foreigner is a danger to the community or a flight risk.Immigration lawyers, who represent many of the 1,100 non-citizens held after the attacks on Sept. 11, are furiousabout the new rule, saying it deprives the detainees of the fundamental right of bond hearings. At such hearings,analogous to bond proceedings in the criminal justice system, immigration judges weigh the evidence to decide whethera detainee should be freed on bond. But now, no matter the outcome of those hearings, the government can continue tohold detainees by filing forms in one business day.

Today, we’ll have a roundtable discussion on some specific cases of detainees. One detainee, a Pakistani laborernamed Muhammed Butt, died in prison. Authorities say it was heart failure, but a relative in Pakistan reportedly saidthat an autopsy revealed signs of severe torture. In another case, an Egyptian man entered the U.S. legally on atourist visa after September 11 and has been detained since.

Guests:

  • Marty Stolar, a criminal defense lawyer who is defending an Egyptian man who entered the U.S. legally on atourist visa after September 11 and has been detained since.
  • Bobby Kahn, organizer with the Asian Latino African-American Mutual Alliance (ALAAMA).
  • Monami Maulik, organizer with DRUM (Desis Rising Up and Moving). She has been visiting detainees inholding cells.
  • Mac Scott, Coalition for the Human Rights of Immigrants. He has been visiting detainees in New York topsecurity holding cells.
  • "Alex", (does not want name revealed), Filipino detained for 8 months when entering the US (beforeSeptember 11).

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