Sameh Khouzam is an Egyptian who fled Egypt in 1998 to avoid torture for being a Christian. Maybe you’ve read about him , he’s received quite a bit of attention in the press in the New York Times and the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. Amrit Singh, staff attorney with the Immigrants’ Rights Project, blogged about the situation on The Huffington Post on Wednesday.
As you may remember, Sameh was facing deportation this coming Monday, June 18.
Thankfully everyone in the office can breathe a sigh of relief , this afternoon Judge Vanaskie of the District Court of Pennsylvania granted Sameh an indefinite stay pending the outcome of the case.
The judge found that the evidence showed that if Sameh was returned to Egypt, he would face torture. On page 21 of his decision Judge Vanaskie wrote:
“…Protection against torture is an essential component of the rule of law and a democratic society. While Khouzam may have no right to be in the United States, he most assuredly has a right not to be tortured.”
All of us at the ACLU are excited and heartened that Sameh is no longer in immediate danger. However, the issue won’t be resolved until Sameh is safe from deportation altogether. For that to happen the court must find that the government cannot circumvent its obligations under the Convention Against Torture by obtaining inherently unreliable diplomatic assurances from a country like Egypt.
So many groups have sent letters on Sameh’s behalf it’s hard to keep track: Rep. Joseph Pitts (R-PA); Senator Bob Casey (D-PA); Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA); the Traditional Values Coalition, Concerned Women for American, American Center for Law & Justice, the Coptic Assembly of America and Institute on Religion and Public Policy.
You can send your own letter using this form to send a message to John Bellinger, Legal Advisor to the Secretary of State; Julie Myers, Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement; Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State; and your Members of Congress urging them to intervene in the matter.
And you can help restore America’s core values of freedom and fairness by joining the ACLU and other human rights groups on June 26, 2007, in Washington, D.C. for the Day of Action to Restore Law and Justice.