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Megahed in custody, awaits bail hearing

Former USF student Youssef Megahed remains in the Glades County Jail until he can present his case for bail before an immigration judge early next week.

Megahed’s brother, Yahia Megahed, said Youssef Megahed met with an immigration judge April 14 and planned to ask for a delayed hearing so he would have time to hire an immigration lawyer.

However, Megahed did not have to ask for an extension because the prosecutors said they were not fully prepared and postponed the bail hearing until Tuesday, Yahia Megahed said.

Public defender Adam Allen said given the nature of the case, he is still unsure if Megahed will be eligible for bond.

Earlier this month, a federal jury acquitted Megahed on charges of illegally transporting explosive materials and possessing a destructive device.

Three days after his release, Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested Youssef Megahed on charges of violating the Immigration and Nationality Act, immigration officials said.

Yahia Megahed said his family is disappointed because they dealt with Youssef Megahed’s federal case for the past two years, and now the situation has started all over again.

“It’s very disturbing and very disappointing that the government has found a way to retry the case,” Yahia Megahed said. “We are upset. We wanted him to continue with his life and finish his degree. Now we will have to start again.”

Youssef Megahed was one course shy of graduating with a bachelor’s degree in engineering when he and former USF student Ahmed Mohamed were arrested in August 2007.

Police pulled over Megahed and Mohamed for speeding in Charleston, S.C., and arrested the two men after finding PVC pipes, fuses and other materials in the trunk of the vehicle.

On Monday, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security stating that Megahed’s immigration arrest is “vindictive.”

“It may be the case that federal statutes and the U.S. Constitution do not forbid the government from charging a person with deportability even when it has failed to secure a conviction in a criminal case based on the same conduct,” the letter states. “However, by placing Mr. Megahed in removal proceedings after losing its criminal case, the government appears to be unfairly exploiting its substantial procedural advantages in immigration court.”

A statement released by Immigration and Customs Enforcement states that Megahed’s immigration violations differ significantly from those he was charged with during his criminal case.

According to the statement, Megahed’s arrest could result in a loss of his permanent resident status, which he has had since he was 11.

The letter sent by the Florida ACLU states that Megahed’s arrest is unfair because he “will have no right to appointed counsel or discovery, and the government is held to a lower standard of proof (in immigration cases) than in criminal cases.”

Allen said he was told that Megahed received a copy of his green card, which proves his
permanent resident status.

This would provide Megahed with the proper materials for his hearing next week, Allen said.