Local representatives from the American Civil Liberties Union and the Anti-Arab Defamation League are meeting with Arab American students tomorrow to address any concerns regarding letters sent this week by the U.S. attorney”s office in Detroit asking more than 70 Arab American residents in the Ann Arbor area to set up voluntary interviews.

The meeting will be held at 8 p.m. in the Michigan Union.

LSA junior Michael Simon, co-chair for the campus ACLU, said that because the list of residents who received the letter by the FBI is confidential, the ACLU and the AADL sent an e-mail to every major Arab and Muslim group on campus, in hopes of reaching all those students who have received the letter.

“While these interviews are voluntary, we”re urging them to have an interview, and if they feel uncomfortable we encourage them to bring legal representation and/or an interpreter,” Simon said. “We want students to know there are all kinds of free legal services available to them at U of M.”

Lloyd Meyer, assistant U.S. attorney in Grand Rapids, told The Associated Press that the men won”t face penalties for refusing to be interviewed.

“No one has to talk with a police officer if they don”t want to,” Meyer said.

Indeed, the guidelines given to U.S. attorneys emphasize the voluntary nature of the interviews.

“Since the persons to be interviewed are not suspected of any involvement in criminal activity, the interviews will be conducted on a consensual basis, and every interview subject (“individual”) will be free to decline to answer questions,” a memorandum addressed to U.S. attorneys instructing them how to conduct the interviews states.

Meyer said he would be surprised if someone didn”t cooperate.

“We have allowed these individuals into our country to visit, to study, to do business. We expect them to cooperate,” Meyer said. “This is what we expect of any neighbor who witnesses a crime. Every person in this country, citizen or not, has a responsibility to help prevent future acts of terrorism.”

Meanwhile, University spokeswoman Julie Peterson said University police will not be present in the interviews, because none of the people who are being questioned are suspected of criminal activity.

Douglas Lewis, director of Student Legal Services, said his office would provide legal advice and services to those students before they schedule an interview with the FBI.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.