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R.I. man accuses INS of witch hunt.

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R.I. man accuses INS of witch hunt

He says activism led to his arrest

By Thanassis Cambanis, Globe Staff, 11/23/2002

When FBI agents and immigration authorities swooped into Amer Jubran's apartment on Nov. 4, the Jordanian citizen was convinced he was being targeted for his high-profile role as an antiwar and pro-Palestinian activist.

And when he was released Thursday after a US Immigration judge ruled that the permanent US resident did not pose a flight risk, Jubran was more convinced than ever that he had fallen victim to a witch hunt.

''I have been punished because of my activism on the Palestinian issue,'' Jubran, 33, said yesterday in a telephone interview from his home in Cumberland, R.I. ''Unless I'm misinterpreting the First Amendment of the Constitution, which grants freedom of expression, dissent is legal.''

But INS officials contend that Jubran was arrested for a violation of immigration law in his green card application, which was approved in 1999. They dispute Jubran's account of his arrest, and said INS agents clearly identified themselves when they arrested him around 8 a.m. on Nov. 4.

''The agents identified themselves and told him he was being put under arrest for immigration violations,'' INS spokeswoman Paula Greniere said. ''He was very cooperative. Everything went without incident.''

According to the INS, Jubran lied about the date of his marriage on his green card application, and therefore is subject to deportation.

US Immigration Judge Leonard Shapiro released Jubran on a $1,500 bond on Thursday, after 17 days in detention. He is scheduled to appear on the immigration violation in US Immigration Court in Boston on Feb. 20.

But Jubran, his lawyer, and the dozens of supporters who packed a tiny immigration courtroom on Thursday morning say the timing of his arrest was suspicious.

Calling himself a ''political prisoner,'' Jubran said authorities had noticed his leadership role in an antiwar protest in Washington D.C., on Oct. 26 and during a pro-Palestinian rally in front of the Israeli Consulate in Boston on Nov. 2, just two days before his arrest.

''My case is not isolated,'' he said. After the ''terrible crime'' of Sept. 11, he said, ''immediately every Arab and Muslim in this country became a prime suspect of terrorism until proven innocent.''

INS agents don't need arrest warrants to detain noncitizens, but must show detainees a document detailing the charges against them, which the INS says it did in Jubran's case.

Jubran, however, tells a different story. ''Four agents came rushing into my apartment, and put me under arrest without showing me a warrant and without identifying themselves,'' he said.

Half an hour later, he said, an INS agent and an FBI agent tried to interrogate him, allegedly threatening to deport him within two weeks unless he cooperated.

''I said I was more than willing to cooperate, but I'd like to speak to my lawyer first. They told me I would rot in jail if I did not speak right away,'' Jubran said.

Only after two days did Jubran meet with Brookline immigration attorney Nelson K. Brill, who said his client's fundamental rights were violated during the arrest.

Jubran has spoken in many public forums against Israeli policies. He has written letters to several newspapers, and The Boston Globe and Worcester Telegram-Gazette have quoted his speeches at protest marches this year.

In June, Brookline police arrested Jubran on charges of kicking a passerby during a counter-demonstration on Israeli Independence Day, but later dropped the case.

After Jubran's Nov. 4 arrest, Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner (Roxbury) took up his cause, writing a letter to the immigration judge in the case on Nov. 19. ''His detention is an attempt to chill and intimidate the growing antiwar movement and movement in defense of the Palestinians,'' Turner wrote.

Jubran works in the administration of Cambridge College, and has lived in the United States since 1996. He plans to continue his work with the New England Committee to Defend Palestine, which he cofounded this year.

Thanassis Cambanis can be reached at [email protected].

This story ran on page B4 of the Boston Globe on 11/23/2002.

© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.

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