Supporters call for release of Youssef Megahed

04/07/09 Mitch E. Perry
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The Council on American Islamic Relations and local human rights activists today called for the release of Youssef Megahed, who was arrested in Tampa yesterday, three days after he was acquitted in his federal trial.

The 23-year-old former college student was found not guilty on two charges of carrying explosive on Friday, but was detained yesterday by immigration officials while shopping with his father at a Walmart in North Tampa.

Samir Megahed says he was shocked at what has happened with his son.

Youssef Megahed and 24-year-old Ahmed Mohammed were arrested in South Carolina in August 2007 after deputies found low-grade explosives in their car during a traffic stop.

Last June, Mohammed pled guilty to a charge of providing material support to terrorism, and received 15 years in federal prison. The damning evidence against him was a YouTube video which showed Mohammed speaking in Arabic showing how to turn a remote-control toy into a bomb detonator.

Megahed was not charged in connection with the video.

Ramzy Kilac is executive director with the Tampa chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations. Kilac says that at this time, nobody knows where Youssef Megahed is.

Ivan Ortiz, a spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said he was not at libery to disclosed where Megahed was being held.

Kilac believes that Megahed will ultimately be transferred to the federal detention center in Krome, in Miami-Dade County.

Megahed is an Egyptian citizen. He and his family have lived in the United States for nearly 11 years as permanent legal residents.

Mel Underbakke is with the group Friends of Human Rights. She said the re-arrest of Megahed echoes the treatment of Sami Al-Arian, who currently is still involved with legal action, although he is now free on bond.

Youssef’s re-arrest came on the same day that President Barack Obama formally began his outreach to the Muslim world and appeared before the Turkish Parliament, where he spoke of seeking broader engagement based upon mutual interest and mutual respect.

But Samir Megahed said he was disappointed that there does not seem to be any change in justice for Muslims in America, even after the departure of George W. Bush.

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