Skip to comments.Judge Throws Out Case Against Jordanian Student
Posted on 04/30/2002 1:35:08 PM PDT by pragmatic_asian
NEW YORK (AP) -- A federal judge said Tuesday that material witnesses cannot be detained for a grand jury investigation, a ruling that may affect the government's roundup of witnesses since Sept. 11.
U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin made the finding as she threw out a perjury case against a Jordanian college student accused of lying about his associations with two Sept. 11 hijackers.
The judge said Osama Awadallah, 21, had been unlawfully arrested after he was taken from his San Diego home several days after the terrorist attacks.
``Awadallah was effectively seized,'' she wrote.
The judge also said the federal material witness statute does not authorize detention for a grand jury investigation. It was not immediately clear what effect the ruling could have on dozens of material witnesses held since the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
U.S. Attorney James B. Comey said: ``We believe the court's opinions are wrong on the fact and the law and we are reviewing our appellate options.''
Awadallah, a student at Grossmont College in El Cajon, Calif., was taken into custody Sept. 21.
In grand jury appearances, he admitted meeting alleged hijacker Nawaf al-Hazmi 30 to 40 times but denied knowing associate Khalid al-Mihdhar. Confronted with an exam booklet in which he had written the name Khalid, he admitted he knew both men, who were among those blamed for the attack on the Pentagon.
If convicted, Awadallah could have faced up to 10 years in prison.
But the judge cited several factors showing that Awadallah's consent to go with FBI agents to their office and later submit to a lie detector test was the ``product of duress or coercion.''
Agents failed to tell Awadallah he had a constitutional right to refuse any searches when they asked him to sign a form consenting to a search, the judge said.
She also said the agents refused to let him inside his apartment and even ordered him to keep a door open as he urinated. She said one agent threatened to ``tear up'' the apartment if he did get a warrant.
Jesse Berman, a lawyer for Awadallah, said his client had been vindicated. ``Still, he doesn't get back those 90 days he did in jail under terrible conditions,'' Berman said.
Where in the constitution does it say that all of the citizen's privileges extend to foreigers?
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.