Friday, January 11, 2008
The N.Y. Times reports that a federal judge in Pennsylvania yesterday blocked the U.S. government’s efforts to deport a Coptic Christian who said he would be tortured if he were returned to Egypt. The ruling was a rebuff to the Bush administration’s practice of relying on confidential assurances to send people to countries that have been known to practice torture. The court held that the government’s unwillingness to allow an independent review of Egypt’s assurances denied him due process. The man, Sameh Khouzam, 38, was convicted of murder in absentia in Egypt. The ACLU represents him. He denies the murder accusation and contends that he was repeatedly detained and tortured in Egypt because he refused to convert to Islam. The Times quotes immigration law professor Philip G. Schrag (Georgetown): “The importance of this case,” he said, “lies in its rejection of the Bush administration’s claim that secret diplomatic assurances by a foreign government that it will not torture a person preclude judicial review.” Civil Liberties Union, which represented Mr. Khouzam, echoed that view. Marc D. Falkoff (Northern Illinois), who is counsel for 16 Yemenis held at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, is quoted in the Times as saying that the ruling could have sweeping implications for those detained at Guantánamo.
For a copy of the district court's order (c/o Bender's Immigration Bulletin), click here.