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Judge Refuses Saudi's Request for Deportation

June 19, 2004|H.G. Reza | Times Staff Writer

SAN DIEGO — A man whom the government alleges has ties to terrorism volunteered to return to Saudi Arabia on Friday but was rebuffed by an immigration judge who then closed the hearing, citing national security.

Hasan Saddiq Faseh Alddin was arrested May 27 by agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which announced its intention to deport him because of two convictions for spousal battery. In a press release, ICE also said the 34-year-old San Diego man had once roomed with a man who later shared a San Diego apartment with two of the hijackers who crashed an American Airlines plane into the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001.

At Friday's deportation hearing, Judge Anthony Atenaide read a letter he received from Alddin, in which Alddin volunteered to stop contesting his deportation.

"I wish to return to my country as soon as possible," wrote Alddin, who is married to an American and has two children, ages 2 and 6, who were born in the U.S.

Normally, an immigration judge grants an immigrant's wish to return home. But Atenaide said that he would ignore the request because it did not come from Alddin's attorney.

The judge also granted a motion by prosecutors to block the public release of information they planned to introduce at the hearing which, they contended, "would damage national security or local law enforcement interest."

To the surprise of those in the courtroom, Atenaide then closed the entire hearing to the public, including Alddin's wife, citing national security concerns.

Lauren Mack, ICE spokeswoman in San Diego, said government officials had not asked that the hearing be closed.

While Alddin, a legal resident, is not considered a terrorist, Mack said, the agency seeks to deport him -- and opposes his release on bond -- for national security reasons and because his misdemeanor battery convictions make him a threat to the community.

Friday's hearing also yielded another surprise outside the courtroom when Alddin, being led away in handcuffs, yelled at his wife, "Why won't you testify?"

His attorney, Randall Hamud, said Pamela Alddin had been scheduled to testify as a character witness but was under too much stress.

The hearing was continued until July 8.

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