Megahed awaits court date

Former USF student Youssef Megahed, who is being held by immigration and customs enforcement, will go before a judge Tuesday to learn when his immigration trial will begin.

Megahed attended an initial hearing April 28, in which the government added allegations against him because someone watched jihad videos under his user name on his home computer, said Atlanta immigration attorney Charles Kuck.

Last month Megahed’s family retained Kuck, president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, to represent Megahed for free in his immigration trial.

The judge at the hearing asked for a two-week continuance to review the documents and decide on a potential trial date, Kuck said.

He said the government believes Megahed has violated section 237(a)(4)(B) of the immigration and nationality act.

“That simply alleges that he is an alien who the Attorney General knows or has reason to believe is engaged in or is likely to engage in terrorist activity,” Kuck said. “It is truly one of the most ridiculous charges I have ever seen.”

He said that Megahed will put in a separate request this week to the judge for bond and that the judge will either then set a hearing date regarding bond or give Megahed his decision in writing.

Kuck said that because the bond process in immigration court differs from criminal court, Megahed will have to convince the judge that the government cannot prove the charges, or he will be detained.

“It’s the kind of thing that just ticks me off,” Kuck said. “When the government takes it this far, it shows you they can railroad anybody for doing anything. That’s why I took the case pro bono.”

Megahed was originally arrested along with former USF student Ahmed Mohamed in Charleston, S.C., in August 2007, when police pulled over the two for speeding. Both Megahed and Mohamed were arrested when the police discovered PVC pipes, fuses and other materials in the trunk of their vehicle.

Megahed was found not guilty in federal court for illegally transporting explosive materials and possessing a destructive device.

Megahed and his family have been permanent U.S. residents since he was 11 and were applying for citizenship when he was arrested on federal explosive charges.

He was one course away from graduating with a bachelor’s degree in engineering from USF when he was arrested in South Carolina.