Man could be deported over 1999 pot buy
The Associated Press
11 Jul 2005
HOLLYWOOD, Fla. - The manager of a Middle Eastern restaurant, who was taken into custody because his name turned up on a terrorist watch list, is now facing deportation to his native Egypt because he bought a small amount of marijuana in 1999.
Police arrested Basuyouy Mamdouh Ebaid, 44, in February after they say he sold liquor to minors. Officers then ran his name through a computer database, which listed him as a possible terrorist because he was overheard allegedly praising al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and suicide bombers.
Ebaid, who came to the United States 21 years ago on a student visa, has since been held at the Krome Detention Center and is facing a deportation hearing today. He applied for legal residency three years ago, but that's still pending.
He has not been charged with any terrorist-related crimes, but federal officials want him deported because he pleaded guilty in 1999 in Miami- Dade Circuit Court to purchasing and possessing less than 20 grams of marijuana for his personal use.
He was sentenced to time served, one day, and the judge withheld his conviction, so in the state's eyes, he is not a felon.
But under federal law, the marijuana purchasing conviction is an aggravated felony, which means he can be deported.
"He is Egyptian, and I am Mexican," said Ebaid's wife, Maria Flores, who is a U.S. citizen. They have two children. "We chose this country to raise our children. My husband loves this country. What happened to him is terrible. It destroyed his reputation."
She denies that he ever praised terrorists.
Ebaid's lawyers are trying to stop his deportation to Egypt because they argue he would face persecution in his homeland after being branded as a "terrorist" in the United States.
"We're concerned this label subjects him to peril in Egypt, a country he has not seen in 20 years," said his attorney, Ralph Kenol.
Barbara Gonzalez, a spokeswoman for the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said Sunday she could not comment on the case because it is pending litigation.