Following yesterday's post about the 'hate crime' issue, there's another legal imbroglio that's caught my eye. According to CNN:
[Youssef] Megahed came to the United States from Egypt in 1998 as a legal immigrant when he was 12. His problems started two years ago when, as an engineering student at the University of South Florida, he went on a road trip with a new friend, Ahmed Mohamed.
The men were pulled over on a highway, near Charleston, South Carolina, for speeding.
Police say they searched their vehicle and found PVC pipe with potassium nitrate inside, along with detonator cord inside one of Mohamed's bags.
The government said the materials were "low explosives." Mohamed said they were materials for homemade model rockets.
Youssef Megahed claimed he did not know that the materials were in the car.
. . .
Mohamed pleaded guilty to providing material support to terrorists and is serving a 15-year prison sentence.
However, Megahed went to trial and was found not guilty on two charges of possession and transportation of explosives. He was later set free.
"I'm very happy with this," he said, smiling to reporters after his acquittal.
. . .
Megahed left the courthouse on Friday, April 3, ready to resume his life and his studies. He and his family spent the weekend at the beach at Fort DeSoto, Florida. Three days later, federal agents surrounded him, and his father, Samir, as they left a Wal-mart store near their home in Tampa and he was arrested again.
"They surround us....I'm in shock. They didn't give us a chance to speak to somebody to know what was going on," said Samir Megahed. "I try to open the telephone, but they didn't allow me," he said.
Megahed is now being detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, as someone ICE says is "engaged or likely to become engaged in ... terrorist activity" even though he has never been criminally charged with terrorism.
ICE will present an immigration judge with the very same facts that led to Megahed's acquittal in the criminal case. In immigration court, the burden of proof is significantly less.
The evidence, from a search of the computer at his family's home, includes "numerous videos, documents and an Internet search history that supports Islamic extremism, jihad against the United States...," ICE alleged in court documents.
If found guilty, Megahed will be deported.
CNN requested an on-camera interview with Megahed, but ICE would not allow it.
"Because of the national security implications of this case, ICE cannot allow the use of recording devices during in-person interviews with Mr. Megahed," spokesman Richard Rocha said in an e-mail.
Instead, CNN conducted a phone interview with Megahed from the Glades County Detention Center, near Lake Okeechobee.
"I feel this is double jeopardy because the same allegations here are the same allegations that was there, in the court, in the trial," he said.
Megahed was asked, "Are you a terrorist?"
"I would say this is a false allegation," Megahed responded. "Baseless. And I go to court to fight those allegations again."
ICE spokeswoman Nicole Navas said in response: "He will have the opportunity to present the facts of his case before an immigration judge."
This is not the first time the government has gone to immigration court as a last resort after failing to win a criminal prosecution.
"The government doesn't use this a lot, but I think this is an arrow in the quiver that needs to stay because there are those cases where the government needs to do everything in its power to keep us safe, from some of those same individuals," said former U.S. Attorney Guy Lewis.
"In one context, the real question is, are you going to jail for a long period of time. The other context is, are you going to get to live among us," Lewis said.
But Youssef's father says it's pure discrimination against Muslims.
"They didn't want us to live here. And because he wins the case, they want to destroy him completely," Samir Megahed said.
There's more at the link.
Once again, this raises troubling questions. If Mr. Megahed was acquitted on criminal charges, surely it's double jeopardy to arrest him again on precisely the same evidence, and bring the same charges in another court? I know the courts have held that different charges in different courts don't violate the 'double indemnity' protection afforded by the Constitution, but these don't appear to be different charges. I'm very wary of allowing a legal bureaucracy to pursue such a case on so flimsy a pretext.
What say you, readers? Is suspicion - even what may be well-founded suspicion, if the evidence alleged to exist against Mr. Megahed is, in fact, real - sufficient grounds to overturn the principle of 'double jeopardy'? I maintain that it isn't. The principle is important enough that it should be paramount, in my opinion. However, I also accept that there's a case on the other side, even though I don't agree with it as presented in the article.
What say you? Please let us know in Comments.