BOSTON — A Pakistani man arrested in Maine on an immigration charge during the Times Square bombing investigation is not a danger to the community, but he is a flight risk, a government lawyer said Wednesday.
Mohammad Shafiq Rahman, of South Portland, was one of three Pakistani men in New England charged with immigration violations last month as authorities investigated the May 1 attempted car bombing.
Rahman is seeking to become a permanent U.S. resident based on his marriage in March to an American. He has requested to be released on bail while his case makes its way through immigration court.
During a hearing Wednesday, an immigration official said authorities aren’t claiming Rahman is a “danger to the community,” one of the main arguments typically made by the government when seeking to hold someone without bail. Instead, the government contends Rahman is a flight risk, said Richard Neville, deputy chief counsel for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Boston.
U.S. Immigration Judge Francis Cramer did not immediately rule on Rahman’s bail request.
After the hearing, Rahman’s lawyer, Cynthia Arn, said her client has “no connection” to Faisal Shahzad, who pleaded guilty Monday to 10 terrorism and weapons charges in the Times Square case.
“There’s no investigation going on — and there hasn’t been for some time — into him and Faisal Shahzad. It just doesn’t exist,” Arn said.
Rahman, a computer programmer, knew Shahzad when he lived in Connecticut a decade ago because both men were part of the local Pakistani community, Arn said. He hasn’t seen or spoken to him in about eight years, she said.
During the hearing, Arn told the judge that Rahman has been in the United States since 1999, has no criminal record and got married in March after dating an American woman for two years.
“He’s got a family. He’s been consistently employed at a professional level,” she said.
Neville said the government opposes Rahman’s release on bail, implying that his wife’s support of his petition to become a legal resident is questionable.
Rahman married another American woman in 2005 and got divorced in 2006, Neville said.
Rahman’s current wife filed a petition to help legalize his status on May 28, but withdrew it about two weeks later, and now has indicated she wants to support him again, Neville said.
“It seems to be an on- and off-again situation,” Neville said.
Arn, however, said Rahman’s wife, Sara, withdrew her petition of support when federal authorities made a “personal” claim about her husband that was “of concern” but turned out to be unfounded. Arn said she then decided to renew her support for his bid for legal status.
Rahman’s wife attended the immigration hearing in Boston while her husband appeared via video link from the Cumberland County jail in Portland, Maine.
“Mrs. Rahman is here to say that she is in this for the long haul,” Arn told the judge.
Cramer said he would rule on Rahman’s bail request by June 30.
Authorities have said Rahman and two men arrested in Massachusetts may have given money Shahzad through an informal money transfer network, but may not have known how the money would be used.