BOSTON — The lawyer for a South Portland man who is in federal custody said Wednesday that her client doesn’t know why he is being investigated for possible financial ties to a bombing plot in New York City.

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

That hearing had been scheduled Wednesday in 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 who were arrested earlier this month on immigration violations.

The arrests came as federal agents investigated Faisal Shahzad, the Connecticut man who is accused of trying to set off a car bomb in Times Square on May 1.

Federal authorities have said that 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 how the money was going to be used, authorities said.

Since his arrest on May 13, Rahman has been in federal custody in 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 Wednesday afternoon in 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 of the United States through his marriage this year to a Mainer, Sara Boutet Rahman.

Rahman, a computer expert, came to the United States on a work visa in 1999 and has been 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 gaining legal status, as long as he isn’t charged in connection with the car bomb investigation.

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

The purpose of next week’s hearing is twofold.

The judge will consider arguments from Arn and Richard Neville, deputy chief counsel for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, on whether Rahman should be released on bond as the immigration case against him plays out.

Also, Arn will have her first chance to state her position on Rahman’s request for legal status.

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

Pir Khan has been ordered to remain in jail without bail; a ruling on Aftab Khan is expected today or Friday.
According to The Boston Globe, investigators are looking into the possibility that those two men recently entered into sham marriages to gain legal status in the United States.

Pir Khan is married to Rebecca Barry, a woman who grew up in Lewiston and Litchfield and who now lives in Oxford County. Barry was 22 when she married Khan in Watertown, Mass., in December 2008.

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

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

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

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, Renner said.

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

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

Rahman has said that he knew Shahzad several years ago when both men lived in Connecticut, but Rahman said they were not friends and he has not spoken with Shahzad recently.

Rahman has also said he doesn’t know Pir Khan or Aftab Khan, and authorities have not claimed there is any link between them.
Neville, of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, declined to speak about the case Wednesday.

Staff Writer Trevor Maxwell can be contacted at 791-6451 or at:

[email protected]

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