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Va. teen held in Kuwait to return, lawyer says

Associated Press / January 19, 2011

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. — A Virginia teenager who says he was beaten and tortured while detained in Kuwait and has been stuck there for nearly a month because of his apparent placement on a no-fly list should return to the United States by tomorrow, a government lawyer said.

Gulet Mohamed, 19, sued the government yesterday in US District Court in Alexandria, and within hours a judge had scheduled an emergency hearing on Mohamed’s request for an order forcing the government to permit his return.

US District Judge Anthony Trenga said Mohamed’s inability to return to the United States appears to be a “clear violation’’ of his rights, but he said Mohamed’s lawyers with the Council on American-Islamic Relations needed to submit sworn statements to bolster their case. He scheduled another hearing tomorrow.

“It is clear on the face of the complaint . . . that this individual, absent some extraordinary circumstance, would have an absolute right to reenter the United States,’’ Trenga said during yesterday’s hearing.

Mohamed was born in Somalia but is a naturalized US citizen who immigrated at age 3 and most recently lived in the Alexandria area. In March 2009, Mohamed traveled to Yemen and Somalia, where he still has family, to learn Arabic. He stayed in those countries for a few months and in August 2009 settled in Kuwait, where he lived with an uncle.

In December, when he applied for a routine visa extension, he was arrested by plainclothes agents and was beaten and tortured, he alleges. Interrogators whipped his feet and threatened to run electrical current through his genitals, Mohamed said.

The interrogators wanted to know about his time in Yemen and asked numerous questions about radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, an American who is hiding in Yemen and is believed to be a top Al Qaeda recruiter. Mohamed denies that he had any contact with terrorists.

Mohamed says he was twice questioned by FBI agents.

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