Khouzam v. Attorney General
United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
549 F.3d 235 (2008)
Sameh Sami S. Khouzam (plaintiff) was an Egyptian citizen and a Coptic Christian who boarded a flight to the United States (defendant) with a visa. During Khouzam’s flight, Egyptian authorities contacted the State Department and alleged that Khouzam had committed murder just prior to boarding his flight. As a result, American authorities canceled Khouzam’s visa and took him into custody upon arrival. Khouzam applied for asylum and for withholding of removal, but these protections were denied because there were serious reasons to believe that Khouzam had committed a murder. Khouzam also applied for relief under the Convention against Torture (the convention), which was granted because it was more likely than not that Khouzam would be tortured upon return to Egypt. Medical evidence showed injuries and scars consistent with prior torture. Because Khouzam was not eligible for withholding of removal, he was granted deferral of removal and detained for eight years. Given that it seemed unlikely that Khouzam would be removed in the near future, he was released. However, Khouzam was detained again after Egyptian authorities provided diplomatic assurances that Khouzam would not be tortured upon return. Based on these assurances, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) terminated Khouzam’s deferral of removal. Khouzam did not have notice of the diplomatic assurances, a chance to review the assurances, or the opportunity to challenge them in a hearing before the DHS made its decision. Khouzam filed a writ of habeas corpus in a federal district court and petitioned the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit for review of DHS’s decision to terminate the deferral of removal. The federal district court granted Khouzam’s habeas petition, vacated the termination of deferral, and ordered Khouzam released. The district court determined that the DHS had violated Khouzam’s right to due process by not providing him with notice and a chance to dispute the sufficiency of the diplomatic assurances provided by Egypt. The United States government appealed, and the Third Circuit consolidated the appeals.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Rendell, J.)
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