Man Arrested For Videotaping Building With FBI Office

by TChris

For the crime of videotaping a public building, Purna Raj Bajracharya spent three months in solitary confinement before being deported to Katmandu.

What's that? It's not a crime to videotape something that's plainly visible to the public? Tell it to the FBI.

Bajracharya was planning to return to Nepal. He'd overstayed his tourist visa, working odd jobs and enjoying the freedom and wonders to be found in the United States. He taped some street scenes to show to his friends and family, including some buildings in Queens (where Bajracharya had worked for a pizzeria). One of the buildings happened to house an office of the FBI. And so, of course, he was arrested.

Except for the videotape — "a tourist kind of thing," in [FBI agent] Wynne's estimation — no shred of suspicion attached to the man .... His one offense — staying to work on a long-expired tourist visa — was an immigration violation punishable by deportation, not jail.

Bajracharya "was swallowed up in the government's new maximum security system of secret detention and secret hearings." Fortunately, one of the FBI agents who arrested him called Legal Aid on his behalf -- but only after the agent tried unsuccessfully to obtain his release using the "byzantine" process of clearing him as a security threat, a process that "required signatures from top antiterrorism officials in Washington."

Read the linked article for the rest of the story.

Now, for the first time, the F.B.I. agent and the Legal Aid lawyer, Olivia Cassin, have agreed to talk about the case and their unlikely alliance. Their documented accounts offer a rare, first-hand window into the workings of a secret world.

< Turley Examines Detainee Decisions | Joel Steinberg Freed from Prison Today >
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