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ID Fraud Suspect to Be Released to U.S.

January 04, 2003|From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — A man whose tip prompted a nationwide FBI search for five men has been freed from a Canadian jail to face charges in the United States, U.S. officials said Friday.

John Michael Hamdani, who has been held in Ontario since late October, provided the information that led the FBI on Sunday to issue a nationwide alert for five foreign-born men believed to have entered the United States illegally on or before Christmas Eve as part of an immigrant smuggling ring.

Canadian charges of forging passports and traveler's checks were dropped Thursday against Hamdani, clearing the way for him to face 1996 forgery charges brought in New York. Hamdani probably will be returned to the United States after a hearing in Canada next week, said federal law enforcement officials, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Hamdani's attorney, Deepak Paradkar, said his client is cooperating with the FBI.

Hamdani is wanted on charges of trafficking in forged travel and identification documents and did not plan to oppose his return to the United States, the U.S. officials said.

Although it has no evidence the five foreign-born men are involved in terrorism, the FBI says it wants to question them to determine their whereabouts and intentions.

Names and photos of at least 14 others have not been released, officials say, because they are of poor quality.

FBI officials say the decision to put off release of more photos is not related to the claims by a Pakistani jeweler, Mohammed Asghar, that one of the five photos is of him and was wrongly included in the group sought.

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