At a hearing Tuesday at a U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va., Judge Anthony Trenga said Mohamed has a constitutional right to come home to the United States and told government lawyers to arrange for his return this week.
But lawyers for Mohamed, a 19-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen from Somalia who has been held in Kuwait for a month, say they are concerned that the government may drag its feet and prolong the process. "We are concerned that the government may not follow through," Gadeir Abbas, Mohamed's lawyer and a staff attorney at the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told AOL News today in a phone interview. "We haven't heard anything from the government yet regarding arrangements to bring him home."
A Justice Department spokesman declined to say whether arrangements had been made to bring the teenager home today but said in a statement that a "Justice Department attorney indicated that the U.S. government is working to bring Mr. Mohamed to the United States."
The judge has scheduled a hearing for Thursday to ensure the government has allowed Mohamed to return.
Abbas filed a lawsuit against the government Tuesday in federal court, charging that the teen's placement on the U.S. "no-fly" list is "patently unconstitutional" and arguing that the young man has a right to return home. U.S. officials have not said why he was placed on the anti-terror list.
Mohamed, who came to the United States when he was 3, has been detained in Kuwait since Dec. 20. He has said he was trying to renew a visa in Kuwait, where he was staying with relatives to learn Arabic, when he was handcuffed and blindfolded.
Then, according to the lawsuit, Mohamed spent a week in a Kuwaiti jail where he was tortured and interrogated about his relationship with Anwar al-Awlaki, the anti-American cleric born in the United States. Mohamed, who also traveled to Yemen and Somalia to visit family in 2009, has denied having any relationship to al-Awlaki or terrorists.
Finally, on Dec. 28, Mohamed used another detainee's contraband cell phone to call his family, who contacted CAIR, Abbas said. "We probably would not know where he is at this point if it weren't for that cell phone," he said. In the lawsuit, Mohamed has also claimed that FBI agents visited him in Kuwait and asked him about his time in Yemen and Somalia.
Abbas said Mohamed's ordeal has frightened Muslims in the United States. "I've been getting calls from people asking if it's safe to go to Pakistan to attend their sister's wedding because they don't want what happened to Gulet to happen to them," he said.