Without a public explanation, a hearing was canceled for one of three Pakistani men arrested in New England on immigration charges last month as part of the investigation into the attempted bombing in Times Square.
In a joint motion filed in US Immigration Court, the US government and the attorney for
Mohammad Shafiq Rahman asked that the hearing be rescheduled to June 23, a request that was granted.
Rahman, a 33-year-old computer programmer from South Portland, Maine, is being held without bail at the Cumberland County jail in Portland. He was arrested May 13.
His attorney, Cynthia Arn of Portland, said last week that Rahman has no connection to the May 1 botched attack and has been cooperating with authorities. She said Rahman told her that he knew Faisal Shahzad, the Bridgeport, Conn., man charged with the attempted bombing, when he was living in Connecticut "a long time ago just because they had the same circle of friends, but they weren't particularly close or friendly.''
Rahman was admitted to the United States in 1999 with a specialty occupation visa that allowed him to work as a computer programmer, Arn said. The visa was extended twice, but one of Rahman's employers apparently did not file the necessary paperwork the last time he applied to renew it -- and the renewal was denied, she said.
In March, Rahman married Sara Boutet, a 44-year-old artist from Saco, Maine, and a mother of five. He was getting the necessary paperwork together to straighten out his immigration status when he was arrested, Arn said.
Rahman was arrested during a series of raids in the Northeast that were conducted as part of the investigation into the attempted car bombing in Times Square. Two other men also arrested on immigration charges, Pir Khan, a 43-year-old taxi driver, and his cousin, Aftab Ali Khan, a 27-year-old gas station attendant, shared an apartment in Watertown.
Government officials have said the three men might have handled informal money transfers for Shahzad, but that it was unclear whether they knew how the funds would be used. During a recent immigration hearing in Boston, Richard D. Neville, deputy chief counsel for US Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Boston, said Aftab Khan allegedly had Shahzad's cellphone number stored on his cellphone.
None of the three men have been charged criminally.
Rahman works for Artist & Craftsman Supply, a company with 15 stores from Portland to Los Angeles. The owner, Larry Adlerstein, said Rahman told him after the attempted bombing in New York that he knew Shahzad from the Pakistani community in Connecticut.
But, Adlerstein said Rahman told him he hadn't seen Shahzad in eight or nine years and was surprised by Shahzad's arrest because when he knew him he was "very meek.''
In the telephone interview last week, Arn said, "I hope that people will reserve judgment about him until there are actual facts that have been established. I think ultimately they will find that he's done nothing wrong.''
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