Lawyer: Egyptian Student Made An Innocent Mistake


Diamond Member
Jul 11, 2004
Lisa Kiava

(WCCO) Bloomington, Minn. For the first time today, we heard from the Egyptian foreign exchange student arrested in Minneapolis.

Eslam El-Dessouki is one of eleven young men authorities picked up after entering the country on student visas, but never showing up at school.

In a Bloomington, Minn. immigration courtroom, a judge asked the student some very tough questions.

Several times, the Egyptian student was asked, "Why didn't you go to Montana State as required by your student visa?"

El-Dessouki said, "It was the first time out of my country, I just think to visit my uncle... I didn't know if I didn't attend school it would be a crime."
El-Dessouki’s attorney said it was an innocent mistake.

"I think he meant well," immigration attorney Herbert Igbanugo said. "He didn’t understand the law. His uncles actually didn't understand the law because they gave him some bad advice."
Igbanugo explained that the student’s uncles live in Minneapolis. They thought that he could transfer to a different school on his visa instead of attending Montana State University where he had already been accepted.

Earlier in August, when the 17 Egyptian students landed at John F. Kennedy International Airport, they said they got separated during customs inspections. El-Dessouki said he then couldn't find his gate and he missed his Montana flight.

"I think the story about what happened at the airport is extremely questionable," Judge Joseph Dierkes said. "I mean, he had a ticket to go to Montana."

After missing his flight, El-Dessouki hopped a Greyhound from New York to Minneapolis and stayed with his uncle.

Igbanugo said the student didn’t know he was wanted by the FBI the situation sure looked bad at the time.

El-Dessouki visited the U and applied later applied for an official Minnesota state identification card.

He told the judge that's proof he wasn't hiding out.

The judge granted El-Dessouki a bond of $1,700. So even though a nationwide manhunt put him behind bars, he could have been released and returned to Minneapolis Wednesday.

That didn't happen. Immigration officials took steps to keep him in jail.

Igbanugo said since this is a highly-publicized, officials want to keep him in jail even though officials have said none of the students was a direct threat. But the immigration official at the court hearing complained the case was a distraction since FBI had to round up all the missing students at a time when agents wanted to focus on heightened homeland security concerns.

Igbanugo predicted the U.S will probably move to have his client sent back to Egypt in the coming weeks.

Okey dokey... Once he missed his flight, he knew how to catch a greyhound bus and get to his Uncles house in Minnesota.. And kinda amazing how ALL OF THEM, didn't make it to their school.:dunno:

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