Jurors decry push to deport ex-student
TAMPA - Four jurors who acquitted a former Egyptian college student of federal explosives charges criticized US immigration authorities yesterday for trying to deport him, saying it was a "blatant disregard" of their verdict.
The jurors were among 12 who found Youssef Megahed, 23, not guilty April 3 of possessing explosives prosecutors said could have been used to build a destructive bomb or rocket.
Three days after Megahed walked free, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested him as he left a Tampa store with his father. A document ordering Megahed to appear in immigration court said he was being deported based on the circumstances that resulted in the federal charges, said his lawyer, Adam Allen. Megahed is being held pending a hearing that has not been scheduled.
"This sure looks and feels like some sort of 'double jeopardy' even if it doesn't precisely fit the legal definition of that prohibited practice," the jurors said in a statement. "More troublesome is the government's seeming blatant disregard for the will of its own people."
The statement was issued by the foreman and three other jurors.
Ivan L. Ortiz-Delgado, Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman, said in an e-mail that the immigration charges Megahed faces "differ significantly from those charged in his criminal case." He didn't provide details, citing privacy laws.
Megahed is a legal permanent resident who moved to the United States with his family when he was 11. The former student was arrested with an Egyptian national during a traffic stop near Charleston, S.C., in August 2007.