“Judge Releases Documents in [Abdallah Higazy] Case”

Associated Press correspondent Devlin Barrett reports. Excerpt:

NEW YORK- A federal judge believes he was misled by the government before he ordered the detention of an Egyptian student suspected of involvement in the Sept. 11 attack, newly released documents show.

U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff on Thursday unsealed more than 100 pages of court papers in the case of Abdallah Higazy, who was detained after an aviation radio was found in his hotel room overlooking the World Trade Center. Higazy was held without bail for 30 days before being released.

According to a transcript of a hearing on March 18, the judge said the court “is of the preliminary view that it was apparently seriously misled on two occasions in connection with the detention of Mr. Higazy.”

Both occasions centered on prosecutors’ descriptions of a confession obtained from Higazy that was later shown to be false, according to the documents.

When first questioned by authorities, Higazy denied the radio was his, even though a hotel security guard told the FBI he found it in a safe in his room. The radio could be used to communicate with commercial pilots.

Prosecutors said Higazy, 31, later confessed during a polygraph examination that the radio was his, and he was charged in January with lying to investigators.

But the charges were dropped after a pilot came forward to say the radio belonged to him and the security guard recanted his story.

Higazy and his lawyer charge an unidentified FBI agent extracted the confession by making veiled threats against Higazy’s family in Egypt. Rakoff decided earlier this month to let the U.S. attorney’s office conduct an internal review before deciding whether to launch a separate probe of the incident.

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