Many of the 70 to 80 men with temporary visas in Ann Arbor that are being asked to interview with the FBI as part of the investigation into the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks may be University students.

The University received a letter yesterday from the U.S. Attorney”s office in Detroit alerting the Department of Public Safety that some of the people with whom interviews are being requested live on campus. University spokeswoman Julie Peterson said last night that although specific numbers are not known, it”s also possible that a number of people who are affiliated with the University but live off campus are included in the FBI”s list.

“It wouldn”t be a surprise,” Peterson said. “It”s fair to say that a lot of members of the international community in Ann Arbor are drawn here by the University.”

Letters from the FBI were mailed yesterday to more than 70 men between the ages of 18 and 33 in the Ann Arbor area who have entered the country in the last two years on temporary visas from countries with suspected links to terrorism. The letters request an interview with an FBI agent to discuss terrorism, although the FBI emphasizes that those who receive a letter are not suspects in terrorist activity.

The letter to the University, dated Nov. 21 and signed by Eastern Michigan U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Collins and Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Cares, requests the University”s cooperation in conducting interviews. The letter asks that a University officer and a federal agent hold the interviews.

The University plans to comply with the FBI but will not agree to have DPS officers participate in any interviews, Peterson said.

“We have not yet received a list of the names of those to be interviewed, but we will provide whatever information is requested by law enforcement officials, consistent with state and federal laws,” the University said in a written statement.

“However, since none of those identified for questioning are suspected of or associated with criminal activity, we have decided that our public safety personnel will not participate in the interviews. If criminal activity is suspected at any time, campus police will participate fully in follow-up investigations.”

“I know many people who fit the profile and are expecting to receive the letter any day now,” said Kenan Basha, vice president of the Muslim Student Association. “We”re looking to put on a workshop to tell them their rights.”

Basha said his group is encouraging anyone who receives a letter from the FBI to agree to the interview request but to only do so with an attorney or a friend.

“We feel like it would be best for them to respond to go interview with them but at the same time to have someone with them,” he said. “We have to give the government the benefit of the doubt. We”re in a very troubling time.”

LSA senior Paul Saba, president of the campus Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee group, said one of ADC”s main priorities is informing students of their rights. Saba said it is important to realize that the interviews are voluntary and people do have the right to have an attorney present at the interview. He also cautioned that even if students are not involved in terrorist activities, they may have to face the consequences of any unrelated infractions the interviews may uncover.

Saba condemned the interviews as a form of racial profiling. “We oppose the whole thing. It goes against the values this country was based on.”

He added that the letters provided a less intrusive alternative to other methods the FBI has used to conduct information, including going door-to-door.

“They did what they could to make it less harsh,” Saba said.

The ADC”s national and regional chapters can provide counseling and advice for those who receive requests for interviews with the FBI.

There are other resources on campus to help students. Student Legal Services, the International Center and Counseling and Psychological Services can assist anyone who receives a letter from the FBI.

International Center Director Rodolfo Altamirano said students and faculty can come to the center to seek legal advice.

Both Saba and Altamirano said students have not sought advice from them yet regarding the situation.

Saba said the American Civil Liberties Union contacted the ADC to offer help. Campus ACLU co-chair Michael Simon, an LSA junior, stressed that while the organization”s campus chapter cannot provide legal services, it can point people in the right direction.

“We as a student chapter are interested in getting in contact with people who may have been contacted by the FBI to take a rudimentary look at the situation,” Simon said. After assessing the accounts of the interviews, the ACLU can determine whether the FBI violated any civil rights.

The ACLU has also published a pamphlet printed in English and Arabic, titled “Know Your Rights: What to do if you are stopped by the police, the FBI, the INS or customs.”

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