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FRIDAY, JUNE 1, 2007
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Huntsville religious leader still held by immigration

HUNTSVILLE (AP) — Imam Mohammad Razavi, the religious leader of the Alabama Islamic Education Center in Huntsville, expected to be returned to London following his April 19 arrest for overstaying his U.S. visa waiver.

But he’s still being held in federal custody in New Orleans in what his attorney calls an injustice.

“He just wants to go back to his wife and children (in London),” said G.R. Mahmood, a Birmingham lawyer specializing in international and immigration law. “For no fault of his own, he is paying a terrible price.”

Razavi’s immigration papers will not list his return to England as a deportation. Razavi is a Pakistani who was born in Iran and became a naturalized British citizen.

U.S. Immigration spokesman Temple Black in New Orleans told The Associated Press on Thursday he needed to look into Razavi’s case before commenting.

Behruz Rahmati, a Huntsville lawyer who has also worked on the case, said immigration officials have given him no time estimate of when Razavi will be taken to the airport.

The government no longer allows visa violators to be released and leave the country on their own because many of those released and ordered to leave simply did not go, Rahmati said.

Federal officials make the travel arrangements and escort individuals to the airport.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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