A Palestinian activist detained as part of the post-Sept. 11 dragnet is suing the federal government for holding him too long without presenting evidence in support of his detention.
Farouk Abdel-Muhti says he must be allowed to stay in the U.S. because, as a Palestinian, there is no nation to which he can be deported. His defense team is also arguing the Supreme Court has ruled that six months is the maximum reasonable length of time a person can be held before being deported. Abdel-Muhti has been held behind bars for more than six months.
The suit filed in U.S. District Court in Newark names the INS, U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, Passaic County Jail Warden Charles Meyers and others as defendants.
Abdel-Muhti was originally arrested on the morning of April 26 by three New York police officers and an INS agent. They were all dressed in civilian clothes, and came to Abdel-Muhti’s Queens apartment without a warrant.
They claimed they wanted to ask Abdel-Muhti some questions about September 11th. They said they believed there were weapons and explosives in the apartment. When Farouk’s roommate, Bernard McFall refused to open the door, they threatened to break it down, entering without a warrant. Since then he has been detained in various facilities, subjected to extensive interrogation, and often been denied food.
- Farouk Abdel-Muhti, calling from INS detention center.
- Bill Strassberger, Public Affairs Officer, INS, Washington, DC. He is the primary spokesperson for INS asylum, refugee and immigration law issues.
- Mac Scott, member of Abdel-Muhti’s defense team.