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Haddad update

U.S. Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Detroit) visited Haddad last week at a correctional facility in Chicago. Held in solitary confinement since his arrest by Immigration and Naturalization Service officers in December, Haddad’s visitation privileges had been severely restricted. He was allowed only one visit per month with his family, and then they were kept apart by a Plexiglas barrier.

Then Conyers announced last month he was paying a visit, and things suddenly changed. As of March 1 Haddad can meet with his family twice weekly, and there’s no barrier between them.

Haddad also was to testify before a grand jury last month regarding Global Relief Foundation. But his attorney, Ashraf Nubani, advised him to invoke the Fifth Amendment and ask for immunity from prosecution. The government has yet to respond to that request.

“I did that because of the dire conditions they were keeping him in,” says Nubani. “It is not because he has anything to hide. It is because the government is playing this political game. They have nothing on Pastor Haddad. There are no criminal charges and there never will be.”

Haddad had been in solitary confinement since his arrest. But after Conyers’ visit, Haddad can choose to be with other inmates or remain confined to his own cell, according to Nubani.

Conyers, along with several media outlets, including yours truly, sued U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft and two immigration judges last month for not allowing Conyers and the public to attend Haddad’s immigration hearings. A hearing on that suit will be held March 26, too late to make a difference for Haddad’s next court appearance. He will be in Detroit March 19 at 8 a.m. for an immigration hearing, according to Nubani. The Executive Office for Immigration Review did not return News Hits calls.

Ann Mullen is a Metro Times staff writer. E-mail her at amullen@metrotimes.com

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