Sunday, August 27, 2006

Government Refuses U.S. Re-Entry To Two Citizens Unless They First Submit to Questioning By FBI

Countries are required by international law to allow their own citizens re-entry.

This is plainly an abuse.

The U.S. government has barred two relatives of a California man convicted of attending Pakistani terrorism training camps from re-entering the country after an extended stay in Pakistan, even though both are U.S. citizens, the San Francisco Chronicle reported on Saturday.

Muhammed Ismail, 45, a naturalized U.S. citizen, and his 18-year-old son, Jaber Ismail, who was born in the United States, are the uncle and cousin of Hamid Hayat.

Hayat, 23, was convicted in April of providing material support to terrorists by attending training camps in Pakistan between March 2003 and June 2005, and of lying about it to the FBI. He faces a possible sentence of up to 39 years in prison.

Hamid Hayat's father, Umer Hayat, was sentenced on Friday to time served and 36 months of supervised release after he pleaded guilty in May to lying about how much money he was carrying on a trip to his native Pakistan from the United States in 2003.

Umer Hayat, 48, told federal officials he was carrying only $10,000 but had $28,000.

The convictions resulted from a federal probe of the Pakistani immigrant community in Lodi, California, a small farm town in the state's Central Valley.

Federal authorities told the Chronicle that although neither Muhammed nor Jaber Ismail has been charged with a crime, they are barred from reentering the United States unless they submit to further FBI questioning in Pakistan.

Julia Harumi Mass, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney who represents the family, said agents want to know if Jaber Ismail attended Pakistani terrorist training camps.

The men tried to return to the United States on April 21 with other family members but were turned away in Hong Kong and forced to return to Islamabad because they were on the government's "no-fly" list, Mass said.

Muhammad Ismail's wife, daughter and younger son, who were not on the list, continued on to the United States.

Mass said Jaber Ismail had answered questions during an FBI interrogation at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad after he was denied U.S. entry but declined to take a lie-detector test or be interviewed again without a lawyer.

Neither Ismail holds Pakistani citizenship, Mass said.

The proper way this should have been handled is for these men to be re-admitted to the U.S. and then any questioning could be arranged here without the coercive pressure from being stranded abroad.

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