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Parts of immigration hearing will be open

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Parts of immigration hearing will be open

  • Portions of the hearing that relate to a declaration made by an FBI agent will be held in secret because of government concerns that classified information could be released.

Aug. 14, 2003 — The U.S. government has dropped its request for the closure of the entire deportation hearing of a Syrian man who allegedly has ties to Osama bin Laden and attended terrorism training camps in Afghanistan.

FBI agents arrested the man, Nabil Al-Marabh, on Sept. 19, 2001, outside Chicago.

The entire hearing, however, will not be open. Parts of the hearing relating to a declaration made by an FBI agent will be held in secret. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials feared classified information could be released during the hearing.

The Detroit News challenged the closure, saying the public has a right to know what is going on in immigration cases. In its argument to keep the proceedings open, the newspaper pointed to the Sixth Circuit’s ruling that blanket closure of immigration hearings were not consistent with the First Amendment and that any requests for closure had to be narrowly tailored.

Al-Marabh’s attorney argued that the entire hearing should be open.

Almost a year ago, a U.S. Court of Appeals in Cincinnati (6th Cir.) ruled that across-the-board closure of immigration hearings is unconstitutional.

(In the matter of Nabil Al-Murabh; Media counsel: James Stewart and Leonard Niehoff, Butzel Long, Detroit) JL

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