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FBI agent cleared in 9/11 lawsuit

Egyptian student sued agent over alleged threats


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NEW YORK (CNN) -- A federal judge Thursday dismissed a civil rights lawsuit against an FBI agent who administered a lie detector test to an Egyptian exchange student detained in connection with the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Abdallah Higazy claimed that FBI Special Agent Michael Templeton violated his civil rights by threatening him and his family during a polygraph exam on December 27, 2001.

During that session, Higazy admitted possessing a hand-held pilot's radio allegedly found in his hotel room across the street from the World Trade Center. The radio, known as a transceiver, allows pilots to communicate with other pilots in the air or with people on the ground. It later was determined to belong to another hotel guest.

Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald issued a 57-page decision rejecting all of Higazy's claims that his rights were violated, saying that Templeton's actions were not "objectively unreasonable in light of clearly established law."

In November 2002, after a Justice Department investigation, another federal judge found no proof that Templeton coerced a confession from Higazy.

A security guard told FBI agents he found the aviation radio inside a locked safe in Higazy's room on the 51st floor of the Millennium Hotel, across the street from where the twin towers stood.

Higazy, who began a computer engineering graduate program at Polytechnic University in Brooklyn September 4, 2001, had been assigned by the school to the hotel until he found housing.

He evacuated the hotel with the rest of the guests after the second hijacked plane slammed into the towers. He was arrested December 17, 2001, when he returned to the hotel to retrieve belongings, including his passport.

The security guard, Ronald Ferry, later confessed that the aviation radio had been planted in the room. The radio belonged to an American private pilot who was staying in a room one floor below Higazy's.

Charges against Higazy were dropped and he was released from custody in January 2002. Ferry was convicted in March 2002 for lying to federal agents and sentenced to six months worth of weekends in prison.

Templeton, who denied Higazy's accusation, has worked for the FBI since 1976 and was trained as a polygrapher in 1995. His past polygraph work has not come under scrutiny, according to the report.

Polygraphs are not admissible as trial evidence, and have been called worthless by many scientists.

Calls to Higazy's attorney were not immediately returned.


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