PORTLAND – Pakistan’s consul general in Boston expects to come to Maine on Friday to meet with Mohammad Shafiq Rahman, the South Portland man who was arrested by federal agents last week, accused of overstaying his work visa.

Rahman, 34, and two other Pakistani men in Massachusetts are under investigation for possible financial ties to the attempted car bombing in New York City’s Times Square on May 1. Authorities have said the men may not have known they were supplying funds that supported terrorism.

Rahman, a computer programmer who recently married a U.S. citizen, has been in the Cumberland County Jail since his arrest Thursday.

Barry Hoffman, the honorary consul general who has represented Pakistan in Boston since 1973, said his meeting with Rahman is scheduled for 3 p.m. Friday.

Hoffman said Tuesday that he wants to make sure that Rahman is being treated well, and that he doesn’t have any questions about his legal rights and circumstances.

Hoffman said he is concerned that the public is making assumptions about Rahman, as well as Massachusetts residents Aftab Khan, 27, and Pir Khan, 43, whom he visited in jail Monday and Tuesday, respectively. Those men also are being held on immigration violations by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“They are treating it like a very high-profile case, when there have only been immigration violations,” Hoffman said.

“People jump to conclusions (because the men are Pakistani),” he said. “We’re both on the same side of this war against terror.”

Cumberland County Sheriff Mark Dion said Rahman is being held in the county jail as a federal detainee, and is in a segregated cell, where he will not have contact with other inmates.

“There have been no threats, there has been no incident. He has been very cooperative,” Dion said. “It is just a precaution, given that he has a high profile.”

It is unclear whether Rahman will have an opportunity to post bail, or when he might make an initial appearance at the Immigration Court in Boston. Immigration and Customs Enforcement did not return calls seeking comment Tuesday.

Rahman came to the U.S. from Pakistan in 2001 on a non-immigrant work visa, and was employed by a technology firm, Hoffman said. Since then, he has apparently lived in New York and Connecticut. He moved to Maine a few years ago.

Hoffman said Rahman applied for an extension of his visa in 2006, but the application was rejected and Rahman continued to live in the country without authorization.

Rahman has worked since August as a computer specialist for Artist and Craftsman Supply, a 15-store chain based in Portland. His employer, Larry Adlerstein, described Rahman as a conscientious worker and said he will welcome him back to the business if Rahman is cleared of wrongdoing.

Adlerstein said Rahman told him last week that at one point he knew Faisal Shahzad, the man accused of trying to set off a car bomb in Times Square. But Rahman said he had not spoken with Shahzad in several years.

Immigration and Customs agents arrested Rahman in Portland on Thursday, and later searched the apartment he shares with his wife on Kelley Street in South Portland, neighbors said.

Adlerstein said his information about Rahman’s circumstances has come from Sara Rahman. She told Adlerstein that she has hired an immigration lawyer to represent her husband.

“Sara told me how good he is being treated by the FBI and the immigration officials,” Adlerstein said. “He is being treated with respect.”

Neither Sara Rahman nor the lawyer Adlerstein referred to responded to requests for interviews Tuesday. Adlerstein said Sara Rahman doesn’t want to speak publicly because of the emotional stress of the situation.

Hoffman, the consul general from Boston, said he doesn’t believe that either of the Massachusetts men knows Rahman.

Hoffman said Aftab Khan and his uncle, Pir Khan, told him they don’t know Shahzad and don’t know why they have been swept up in the investigation.

Pir Khan’s wife, Rebecca Barry, is a Maine native. The couple wed in 2008 in Watertown, Mass. Attempts to reach her Tuesday were unsuccessful. Hoffman said he believes they are still married but she has not visited him in jail.

Hoffman said he was concerned that Pir Khan was being held in maximum security at the Plymouth County House of Corrections, and was brought into an interview room Tuesday in leg shackles and handcuffs.

“He has been in the U.S. for 20 years and is married to a U.S. citizen,” Hoffman said. “I was shocked to find out that he was being held in max security. It seems pretty excessive.”

 

Staff Writer Trevor Maxwell can be contacted at 791-6451 or at: [email protected]