Last August, I wrote about three Eritrean refugees who were arrested at Phoenix airport and accused of plotting a terrorist attack. The Eritreans were caught with a package of halva (a common Mideast dessert, which is delicious AND Kosher for Passover). The package of halva was suspicious because it had a cell phone taped to it. TSA suspected this was a mock up of a bomb, and that the Eritreans were on a “dry run” for a terrorist attack. Unfortunately, in this day and age, it is hard to blame TSA for being overly cautious. Nevertheless, the charges seemed like a bit of a stretch.
Now, the government has dismissed the case against the three refugees:
“Based on the new information, further prosecution is not in the interest of justice,” wrote Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Koehler in his motion to dismiss the charges.
Philip Seplow, an attorney for one of the three, said he thinks the government simply realized the refugees were not guilty and the whole thing was a big misunderstanding, partially because of a significant language barrier. Mr. Seplow reports that when he informed his client that she had been cleared of the charges, she wept with relief.
Of course it is better to be safe than sorry, and it is difficult to imagine how the government could have handled this case any better. As for me, next time I travel, I will not be carrying any halva.
Originally posted on the Asylumist: www.Asylumist.com.
Jason Dzubow's practice focuses on immigration law, asylum, and appellate litigation. Mr. Dzubow is admitted to practice law in the federal and state courts of Washington, DC and Maryland, the United States Courts of Appeals for the Third, Fourth, Eleventh, and DC Circuits, all Immigration Courts in the United States, and the Board of Immigration Appeals. He is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and the Capital Area Immigrant Rights (CAIR) Coalition. In June 2009, CAIR Coalition honored Mr. Dzubow for his Outstanding Commitment to Defending the Rights and Dignity of Detained Immigrants.