The other two brothers, however, must remain locked up because they failed to appeal the government's refusal to grant them asylum, the court said. Los Angeles Times
By H.G. Reza
Two of four Iranian brothers jailed three years ago because of their alleged ties to a terrorist group may be released on bail while they pursue appeals in their asylum cases, an appellate court has ordered.
The other two brothers, however, must remain locked up because they failed to appeal the government's refusal to grant them asylum, the court said.
In a memorandum released Monday, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals offered Mohammad and Mohsen Mirmehdi the hope that they could soon walk out of a federal detention center in San Pedro.
But it was an emotional blow to Mojtaba and Mostafa Mirmehdi, who apparently will remain jailed while the government finds a third country that will accept them.
They all have been locked up since their arrest Oct. 2, 2001.
All four brothers were ordered deported after admitting that they lied on their political asylum applications in 1999.
Mohsen and Mohammad Mirmehdi appealed the government's refusal to grant them asylum. Mojtaba and Mostafa Mirmehdi did not.
In August, authorities said they would look for a third country that would accept all four, after an immigration appeals court ruled that they could not be sent back to Iran because they would be persecuted.
But the deportation of Mohammad and Mohsen Mirmehdi has been blocked by the circuit court's ruling.
U.S. immigration officials have said that the brothers, who worked at a real estate company in the San Fernando Valley, were a threat to national security because of their alleged support of the Moujahedeen Khalq or MEK, an Iranian opposition group.
In a series of convoluted rulings over three years, some immigration judges and the board have ruled that the Mirmehdis were subject to mandatory detention under the Patriot Act.
One immigration judge, however, said there was no evidence that the Mirmehdis were involved in terrorism.
In its five-page memorandum, the court criticized the Board of Immigration Appeals' contradictory findings in the case: "Agencies have a general duty of consistent dealing. When they change direction, whether on matters of law, policy or fact, they have an obligation to explain themselves."
Marc Van Der Hout, the Mirmehdis' attorney, said he hopes a federal judge will agree to release Mohammad and Mohsen Mirmehdi on bail.
"But I hope that all four will be released, because there is no reason for their continued detention," he said.
"The immigration appeals court has ruled that they are not terrorists. It's a complete injustice for the government to detain them this long."
Immigration officials did not return calls seeking comment.