Former Bangladeshi Diplomat's Deportation Delayed

Homeland Security has delayed the deportation of a former Bangladeshi diplomat who lives in Southern California. A Bangladeshi court convicted Mohiuddin Ahmed of participating in the 1975 assassination of that country's leader. KPCC's Frank Stoltze spoke with Morning Edition host Steve Julian about the case.

Frank Stoltze: Steve, there's been a dramatic turn of events. Ahmed's family and their lawyer had been working frantically with senators Feinstein and Boxer and various congressmen to get a stay of his deportation. Those pleas, according to the lawyer, have reached the highest levels of the U.S. government, and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff has ordered a one week stay of Ahmed's deportation.

Orange County Republican congresswoman Dana Rohrabacher apparently instrumental in raising concerns that Ahmed would be immediately executed for what Ahmed has said was a very minor role he played in Bangladesh's 1975 coup that saw the assassination of that country's president. The family is now looking for a third country that might take Ahmed.

Steve Julian: Frank, tell us more about who Ahmed is.

Stoltze: Well, he's been a West L.A. resident for the past decade. He's been a volunteer at the Red Cross, he's sold TV's at Circuit City, worked as a Senegali and Urdu interpreter for AT&T. Before he came to the U.S., he served as a diplomat for Bangladesh after that 1975 coup.

He says, during the coup itself, he was an army major and merely oversaw a roadblock. He did believe in the coup because the president at the time had become a dictator, and he was convicted after the daughter of that assassinated president came to power in 1996, and she threw out an amnesty law that had protected Ahmed and others.

Julian: You spoke with him yesterday. What did he have to say about his case?

Stoltze: Ahmed is philosophical. He says the immigration judge, the U.S. immigration judge who refused to give him political asylum here in the U.S. was simply ignorant of Bangladeshi history, a politically volatile history to this day.

He also says he's resigned to being deported, saying that history has seen plenty of victims of politics, and that he would become another. Of course, that was when I talked to him yesterday. That's changed, and again, the family is hoping that he'll be able to be sent to a third country.