BOSTON — The lawyer for a South Portland man under investigation for financial ties to a New York City bombing plot said her client is bewildered as to why he was swept up in the probe.

Attorney Cynthia Arn also said she does not expect any criminal charges to be filed against Mohammad Shafiq Rahman, and she hopes that a judge will order him to be released on bond at a hearing next week.

That hearing for Rahman had been scheduled for today at Boston Immigration Court, but Judge Francis L. Cramer granted Arn’s request to postpone the proceeding until June 2.

Rahman, 34, is one of three Pakistani men from New England arrested earlier this month on immigration violations. The arrests came as federal agents investigated Faisal Shahzad, the Connecticut man accused of trying to set off a car bomb in Times Square on May 1.

Federal authorities have said Rahman, Aftab Khan, 27, and Pir Khan, 43, both of Watertown, Mass., may have helped fund Shahzad through an informal money transfer network. But the men may not have known what the money was going to be used for, authorities said.

Since his arrest on May 13, Rahman has been held in federal custody at the Cumberland County Jail in Portland.

“At the end of the day, I think we’re going to find out that he has not done anything wrong,” said Arn, of the Portland firm Landis, Arn & Jaynes.

“People have to remember that he is being held on an immigration detainer,” she said. “He is not in jail because he has committed any crimes.

“I’m hoping that we can resolve this for him and get him out of there and back to his family.”

Rahman appeared briefly this afternoon at Boston Immigration Court, via teleconference from the jail in Portland. He wore a yellow jumpsuit and looked relaxed as he sat next to his lawyer.

Arn said she is preparing an application for what is known in the immigration court system as a “status adjustment.” Rahman seeks to become a legal permanent resident in the U.S. through his marriage earlier this year to Mainer Sara Boutet Rahman.

Rahman, a computer expert, came to the U.S. on a work visa in 1999 and has remained in the country illegally since 2006, when his request for an extension was denied. Immigration law experts in Portland say his marriage gives Rahman a good argument for obtaining legal status, as long as he does not face any criminal charges in connection with the car bomb probe.

Arn told Judge Cramer that she wanted to complete the change of status paperwork for Rahman before going forward with a hearing.

The purpose of the hearing, now set for next week, is twofold: The judge will consider arguments from Arn and Neville on whether Rahman should be released on bond as the immigration case against him plays out; and Arn will have her first opportunity to state her position on Rahman’s request for legal status.

It usually takes several months for a case like this to be resolved, Arn said.

Pir Khan has been ordered to remain in jail without bail; a ruling on Aftab Khan is expected Thursday or Friday.

According to the Boston Globe, investigators are looking into the possibility that those two men recently entered into sham marriages in efforts to obtain legal status in the U.S. Pir Khan is married to a woman who grew up in Lewiston and Litchfield, and who now lives in Oxford County. Rebecca Barry was 22 when she married Khan in Watertown in December 2008.

Arn and co-workers of Rahman, however, say his marriage to Sara Rahman is legitimate. The couple moved into a South Portland apartment last year and married in March. On her Facebook page, Sara Rahman has described her husband as a loving and peaceful individual.

Mohammad and Sara Rahman were getting paperwork in order this spring to apply for his change of status, before the arrest by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Arn said.

Maureen Renner has been Rahman’s supervisor at Artist and Craftsman Supply on Deering Avenue in Portland, where he is employed as a computer specialist. Renner and the company owner, Larry Adlerstein, have remained in close contact with Sara Rahman, who has declined to comment on her husband’s situation.

“She is hanging in there, she is trying to advocate for Shafiq as best she can,” Renner said today.

Renner said Sara Rahman has her hands full with her children, a part-time job and the stress of Mohammad Rahman’s arrest and immigration proceedings. Sara Rahman is optimistic that her husband’s request for a change of status will be approved by Judge Cramer, Renner said.

“She has been very hopeful, particularly because there are no criminal charges,” Renner said.

Federal authorities have not provided any details about the money trail supposedly linking Rahman with Shahzad.

Rahman has told people he knew Shahzad several years ago, when both men lived in Connecticut, but they were not friends and he has not spoken with him recently. He has also said he does not know Pir Khan or Aftab Khan, and authorities have not claimed there is any link between them.

Richard Neville, deputy chief counsel for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, declined to speak about the case today.


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