Thursday, November 30, 2006

U.S. Apologizes to Mistaken Terrorism Suspect

If you have done nothing wrong you have nothing to worry about. Yeah, right.
The U.S. government has agreed to pay $2 million to an Oregon lawyer who was wrongfully arrested as a terrorism suspect because of a bungled fingerprint match and has issued an apology for the "suffering" inflicted on the attorney and his family.

Under the terms of the settlement announced today, Brandon Mayfield of Portland, Ore., will also be able to continue to pursue a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the USA Patriot Act antiterrorism law, which played a role in Mayfield's case.

The monetary payment amounts to an embarrassing admission of wrongdoing by the FBI, which arrested and detained Mayfield as a material witness in May 2004 after FBI examiners wrongly linked him to a portion of a fingerprint found on a bag of detonators during the investigation of the Madrid commuter train bombings.

Subsequent investigations have also found that the FBI compounded its error by failing to adhere to its own rules for handling evidence and by resisting the conclusions of the Spanish National Police, which quickly determined that the fingerprint belonged to someone else.

Mayfield--who was held for two weeks and who was subjected to surveillance and secret searches of his home and office--said in a statement issued by his attorneys that he was threatened with the death penalty while in custody and that he and his family were targeted "because of our Muslim religion."

(read more)


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