PA Muslim Leader Freed, Deportation Possible


A Muslim religious leader from Pittsburgh was freed from jail yesterday after a bond hearing but still faces the possibility of deportation to his native Turkey.

Immigration Judge Walter Durling in York approved the agreement allowing Imam Kadir Gunduz, 48, of Beechview, to post $5,000 bond, according to Imam Gunduz's attorney, Robert S. Whitehill.

"I must say I'm grateful to the government for agreeing to allow this man to be released on bond," said Mr. Whitehill, who participated in the hearing by telephone. "There has been an astonishing outpouring of support for this man from religious leaders of all persuasions."

The next phase of the legal proceeding will take place in Pittsburgh, but a date has not been set, Mr. Whitehill said. He also said the judge did not impose any conditions on Imam Gunduz's release.

However, the imam's immigration status remains murky.

"His status is that the government has moved to try to remove him," Mr. Whitehill said. "He's in limbo."

Imam Gunduz, a clergy member at the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh, was detained Dec. 4 by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Pittsburgh after being accused of violating his non-immigrant status in 1999, Mr. Whitehill said.

The attorney said he did not know the details of the allegation. Asked if the accusation was true, he said, "Frankly I've got to review the records, and the government does have the burden of proof."

Since his arrest, Imam Gunduz was moved from the Allegheny County Jail to Cambria County's lockup to the York County Prison, a major holding center for detainees.

Mr. Whitehill said one of the mechanisms that brought the case to light was a federal lawsuit Imam Gunduz filed in June to resolve his immigration status.

Imam Gunduz moved to Pittsburgh in 1988 and lives here with his wife, Saime, and three children who are U.S. citizens, Mr. Whitehill said.

 


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