Immigrant girls released

Positive developments are reported in the case of two Muslim immigrant girls in New York City detained following spurious suspicion of plotting suicide attacks. Reports the NY Times May 7:

One girl, an immigrant from Guinea, was back in her East Harlem high school yesterday among the jubilant friends and teachers who have insisted all along that the accusation was absurd. The other girl, who grew up in Queens, was still in detention, but was granted an order from an immigration judge that will allow her and her parents to return to their native Bangladesh as soon as the trip can be arranged.

Many questions remain unanswered in a case that has been marked from the start by secrecy, including closed hearings, sealed F.B.I. declarations, and orders barring the lawyers from disclosing government information. James Margolin, an F.B.I. spokesman, did not return calls seeking comment on the latest developments, and earlier had said he could not discuss the cases.

But Natasha Pierre, the lawyer for the Guinean girl, Adama Bah, said the outcome spoke for itself. “She should never have been detained in the first place,” Ms. Pierre said of her client, who was not yet 2 when she arrived in New York with her parents, Muslims who have a trinket shop near a subway stop in Bushwick, Brooklyn. “I’m still under a gag order and I have to be very careful not to cross the line. All I can say is she’s innocent – she’s more than innocent. The girl doesn’t know anything.”

The girls were obviously traumatized by the harsh measures imposed in the case:

Fellow students began laughing and crying at the same time when they saw her walk in, said a friend, Yolanda Lawrence, 15. Many had tried to send Adama letters of support, but were told that she was not allowed to receive or send mail in the maximum security juvenile detention center, in Berks County, Pa., and was allowed one five-minute phone call from her mother each week.

The gag order imposed by an immigration judge at the government’s insistence seemed to be weighing on Adama when she emerged briefly from Heritage High School between classes. She repeated what she had been telling friends and teachers inside: “I can’t talk about the case.”

NOTE: The vigil which had been planned for the immigration hearing in York, PA, has been cancelled due to these developments. See the Detainment blog.