Tuesday, April 13, 2010

[wvns] Megahed sues over citizenship petition

Megahed sues over 'willfully delayed' citizenship petition
By ELAINE SILVESTRINI - esilvestrini@tampatrib.com
April 8, 2010

TAMPA - Youssef Megahed, who was acquitted of federal explosives charges, wants to become an American citizen, like the rest of his family.

Megahed, 24, filed suit in U.S. District Court on Wednesday asking a judge to order immigration officials to act on his citizenship petition, first filed less than two weeks before his 2007 arrest in South Carolina.

If he wins this legal battle, Megahed, who was once considered a budding terrorist by the government, will take an oath pledging to take up arms for the United States if called.

The government has "willfully and unreasonably delayed" Megahed's citizenship application, according to the lawsuit, which was filed in the same courthouse where he was acquitted of criminal charges.

Megahed and his friend Ahmed Mohamed were arrested in August 2007 after a traffic stop. Deputies initially said they found pipe bombs in the car's trunk.

The FBI determined the items were not pipe bombs, but rather PVC pipes holding a "low explosives" mix of potassium nitrate and sugar.

Megahed's attorneys maintained the devices were Mohamed's model rockets, and said their client didn't know about them.

Megahed and Mohamed were University of South Florida students at the time of their arrest. Both are from Egypt, although Megahed has lived in the United States since he was a child and is a legal permanent resident. He has since graduated from USF with an engineering degree.

Mohamed pleaded guilty to helping terrorists by posting a video on YouTube in which he demonstrated how to use the remote control of a toy to detonate a bomb. He is serving 15 years in federal prison.

There was no evidence linking Megahed to the video.

Three days after a federal jury acquitted Megahed, immigration authorities arrested him and tried to have him deported. Three days before the deportation hearing, Megahed's parents and older brother were sworn in as U.S. citizens.
Government lawyers argued in immigration court in August that Megahed was part of a terrorist cell, but an immigration judge ruled the government had no case.

Reporter Elaine Silvestrini can be reached at (813) 259-7837 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              (813) 259-7837      end_of_the_skype_highlighting



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