A federal immigration judge gave Immigration and Naturalization Service officials more time to build their case against Ann Arbor Muslim leader Rabih Haddad, who was once again denied bail and must remain behind bars as the federal government pursues evidence to support his removal from the country.

In what is being called an unusual course of action for federal proceedings, Haddad”s hearing yesterday similar to all his previous court appearances was conducted behind closed doors, without the presence of media or the public.

Haddad, a co-founder of the Global Relief Foundation, an Islamic charity, was arrested Dec. 14 on an expired visa charge. The foundation became suspected for channeling money to terrorist organizations two years ago and was placed on a White House-watch list.

Formal hearings for the deportation of Haddad also began yesterday.

If his client accepted voluntary removal from the country, Haddad”s attorney, Ashraf Nubani, said Haddad could remain in jail for several months. Nubani also said Haddad will not be deported because he is a legal immigrant.

Immigration Judge Elizabeth Hacker said she will release Haddad on bond if the INS is unable to supply proof of its claims. Until then, Haddad will continue to be held at the Monroe County Jail.

The next removal hearing is scheduled for Feb. 19.

Nubani said Haddad was refused bond initially because he was considered a flight risk and because he owns a hunting rifle.

At closed bond hearings on Dec. 19 and Jan. 2, Hacker denied Haddad bond indefinitely. But a Troy lawyer said closed immigration hearings and denial of bond are rare and that other factors may have been an influence for Hacker”s decision.

William Dance, a partner for Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen and Loewy, a firm in Troy that specializes in immigration, said he was surprised that Hacker had the bond hearing closed to the public. He said deportation hearings are normally open.

“That to me seemed improper,” he said. “I”m not in favor of closed hearings. Some government people maybe got to the judge that publicized information might be helpful to the terrorist movement. (Haddad) is not a proven terrorist, but his organization is accused of supporting terrorism.”

In his experience, Dance said Hacker is fairly careful and exercises discretion.

“I”ve been before her a number of times,” Dance said. “Hacker would want to give someone a fair trial. There has to have been some allegations by the government. I know her, she wouldn”t do that on her own.”

Dance said a judge would likely refuse bond simply on the basis of Haddad”s ownership of a hunting rifle. He said he believes it is most likely a result of fear within the country of anyone related or associated to terrorist factions.

“I think it was based on the events of September 11,” Dance said. “I think that you can”t fault an immigration judge when you have somebody from an organization the government is saying is contributing to terrorists.”

Yesterday”s decision was met with mixed reactions from some of the 100 people who protested outside the court.

“Public opinion and political representatives pushed the judge to say enough is enough and that you have to present evidence,” said Tariq Colvin, a trustee of the Islamic Center of Ann Arbor.

“I think what this does is it brings us to a point, a fork in the road. My worry is that there is going to be some other angle they will come from that will potentially subvert the due process,” Colvin said.

Nazih Hassan, vice president of the Muslim Community Association for Ann Arbor said the INS has had ample time to present its evidence.

“If they have something, please put it out in the open and we”ll examine it and act accordingly,” Hassan said.

Hassan said he was disappointed that the hearings remain closed to the public and media.

“The government is really alienating the Muslim and Arab community,” Hassan said. “We”re losing trust we have in the government.”

Dance, an adjunct professor at Wayne State University, said the government may have pressed for a closed trial from because of a paranoia about revealing too much information to the public that could be leaked to terrorists.

“I suspect that the government, which is not against giving fair trials, is obsessed with secret evidence,” Dance said. “They”ve got to have closed trials. They didn”t want evidence disclosed which might work to the benefit of the enemies of the country.”

Dance said Haddad, who came to the United States in 1998 from Lebanon, would not be considered a citizen because even though he has applied for permanent residency, he has not applied for citizenship. Haddad”s attorney said his client applied for permanent residency in 2000.

Dance said that application process usually takes three to four years.

“You cannot look at him as a citizen,” Dance said. “You have to be a permanent resident for five years before you can even apply for citizenship,” Dance said.

“He wasn”t denied anything because he”s not a citizen. But he is entitled to due process,” Dance said.

Reports from the Associated Press contributed to this story.

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