August 27, 2010

Man detained in bomb probe freed on bail

Mohammad Shafiq Rahman of South Portland still faces a Sept. 14 hearing on his immigration status.

By Dennis Hoey dhoey@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

SOUTH PORTLAND - A South Portland man who was jailed for 15 weeks while federal authorities investigated whether he was connected to the attempted Times Square bombing is free after his family posted $10,000 cash bail.

But Mohammad Shafiq Rahman, 33, still faces a hearing on his immigration status next month in federal Immigration Court in Boston.

Rahman was released Thursday afternoon from the Suffolk County House of Corrections in Boston, said Ross Feinstein, spokesman for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

"He is no longer in ICE custody," was all that Feinstein would say.

After his release from jail, Rahman, a computer programmer, returned to his apartment in South Portland. He married Sara Rahman in March. She is American-born, and he is a native of Pakistan.

Rahman, who was on his way out to dinner with his wife Thursday night, declined to comment on what happened to him during his incarceration on an immigration violation.

"I need to talk to my attorney before I can say anything," Rahman said.

He is scheduled to appear at an Immigration Court hearing Sept. 14.

Kathryn Mattingly, a spokeswoman for the Department of Justice's Executive Office for Immigration Review, described the proceeding as "preliminary," meaning that presiding Judge Brenda O'Malley will review Rahman's immigration status.

It is not scheduled as a "merit hearing," a forum which Mattingly said would give both sides the opportunity to present evidence and witnesses -- similar to a trial. However, she said the hearing format could change before then, especially if the attorneys in the case request it, she said.

Cynthia Arn, a Portland-based attorney who represents Rahman, was out of town Thursday and could not be reached for comment.

Rahman faces an immigration charge alleging that the work visa he received in 1999 has expired. He has applied to stay in the United States based on his marriage.

During his incarceration, Rahman lost his job after his employer hired another worker to fill the position.

Authorities picked up Rahman in Portland on May 13 and took him to the Cumberland County Jail.

Federal officials said he was taken into custody as part of their investigation into Faisal Shahzad's failed attempt to set off a bomb in Times Square on May 1.

Investigators said Rahman and two men arrested in Massachusetts may have given money to Shahzad, a Pakistani-American who lived in Connecticut, through an informal money transfer network -- possibly without knowing how the money would be used.

None of the three men has been charged in connection with the Times Square bombing attempt.

Arn has said federal authorities never presented any evidence to her or her client that linked Rahman to Shahzad's plot.

The only connection between the men is that Rahman met Shahzad about 10 years ago when Rahman lived in Connecticut. They have not spoken since then. Shahzad pleaded guilty in June to 10 charges in the Times Square case.

Rahman's bail was set in July at $10,000, but it was revoked by officials with the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agency.

On Tuesday, Judge O'Malley reinstated bail, saying federal authorities could provide no reason for keeping him behind bars.

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

dhoey@pressherald.com

 

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