Local Muslim Attorney Suing Ashcroft, FBI

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    Local Muslim Attorney Suing Ashcroft, FBI



    PORTLAND -- The Patriot Act is about to come under fire in Portland.

    Brandon Mayfield, the local Muslim mistakenly linked to the Madrid bombings, is fighting back. Friday he and his high profile attorneys go to court and the case is getting international attention.

    The federal court docket lists this case as Brandon Mayfield vs. John Ashcroft et al. Along with the former attorney general, he's also suing the FBI and the Department of Justice.

    Who knows if his case will ever go before a jury, but Friday a judge will hear arguments that could change the way the country wages its War on Terror.

    "I want to thank the Multnomah County Detention Center for this lovely Holy Koran," Mayfield said in 2004 upon his release from jail.

    Mayfield likely won't be as thankful when he returns to the federal courthouse Friday morning.

    Last May he was jailed for two weeks after FBI agents claimed his fingerprints linked him to the Madrid train bombings. They did not and he was released and the FBI apologized.

    But that did not stop Mayfield from suing, claiming he was unfairly investigated because of what his attorneys dubbed the "Muslim factor."

    They say his faith motivated federal agents to use the Patriot Act to violate Mayfield's civil rights and illegally arrest him.

    Mayfield's attorneys point to an e-mail from FBI spokesperson Beth Anne Steele notifying a colleague that a Portland Muslim's fingerprint showed up in Spain.

    According to the e-mail, dated the day before Mayfield was arrested, Steele wrote: "The problem is there is not enough other evidence to arrest him on a criminal charge."

    In pre-trial motions Friday, Mayfield's attorneys will argue for a federal judge to give them the evidence gathered in the Mayfield investigation. They're questioning the constitutionality of the Patriot Act and the way the government investigates Muslims.

    "If Mr. Mayfield loses, the message I think for Muslim citizens of the United States is dire," Lewis and Clark law professor Art La-France said

    La-France says this could be a landmark case for all terrorism investigations.

    "The repercussions potentially are significant. From the government's point of view it's personnel and policy could be seriously impacted in ways that are very hard to predict," La France said.

    We tried to contact the FBI about the case, but because of the pending legal action, their office is not commenting.

    We also are not getting any pre-trial comments from Mayfield's attorneys, most notably Gerry Spence.

    The well-known trial attorney is scheduled to be at the federal courthouse Friday.


    http://www.koin.com/news.asp?ID=3502
     

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