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Nation of Islam representative released in Guyana, demands apology

By Moni Basu, CNN
Nation of Islam official Akbar Muhammad, left, was released Friday afternoon, according to his laywer.
Nation of Islam official Akbar Muhammad, left, was released Friday afternoon, according to his laywer.
  • NEW: Akbar Muhammad says Guyana's case "is ludicrous"
  • Muhammad says he is a victim of a smear campaign
  • He had appeared on an opposition TV network
  • He is a top aide to Louis Farrakhan, according to an online biography

(CNN) -- A top Nation of Islam official arrested in Guyana on suspicion of terrorism was released by police Friday afternoon and is demanding a formal apology, he and his lawyer there told CNN.

Painting himself as the victim of a "smear campaign," Akbar Muhammad said he expected to leave the South American country Saturday.

Muhammad, 69, who also was held on suspicions related to drugs, called the case "a classic case of disinformation."

"It's just ludicrous," he said in a phone call after a press conference, adding that he would seek an official apology from Guyanan authorities. He claimed he has never been involved or supported terrorist activities.

No formal charges were filed against Muhammad, the international representative of the Nation of Islam, said Guyanese Minister of Home Affairs Clement Rohee.

Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the Nation of Islam group, called the Guyanese president about the case, Muhammad said.

Muhammad was taken into custody at his room at the Princess International Hotel early Thursday, Rohee said. Authorities in the Guyana had 72 hours to press formal charges.

Rohee gave no other details.

A hearing was held Friday afternoon, but the judge issued no order, according to Muhammad's attorney, Nigel Hughes. Still, Muhammad was released soon after.

Hughes said Akbar arrived in Guyana this week and appeared on two programs that aired on a television network run by the government's political opposition.

"I'm not here to talk about politics," Muhammad told CNN. Instead, he said, he had traveled to the nation to talk with children about the dangers of drugs.

Guyana remains a racially and ethnically divided nation, with distrust existing between the Indian-dominated ruling party and the black-supported opposition, according to the U.S. State Department.

National elections are scheduled for August.

Hughes said police have not presented any evidence of terrorism, claiming that Muhammad was arrested because of his Afro-centric opinions.

"We are of the view that this is an act of considerable malice by police," he said.

Akbar has been "a top aide to Minister Louis Farrakhan from 1965 to present," according to his biography posted on the website of the Truth Establishment Institute, which handles his speaking engagements.

As the international representative for the Nation of Islam -- an African-American religious movement that gained attention in the 1950s under the leadership of Malcolm X -- he largely divides his time between the United States and Accra, Ghana, the biography says.

"For the past 29 years, Akbar Muhammad has traveled extensively around the world, mainly in North, West and South Africa. He lectures to civic organizations, students and business leaders about the advantages of doing business and traveling in Africa and the Caribbean," the biography says.

The FBI raided Muhammad house in St. Louis in 2007, according to an article in The Final Call, a newspaper started by Farrakhan. Supporters attended an event in Chicago in 2009 to raise money for Akbar's legal fees.

In 2009, Muhammad, who was born Lawrence Prescott, pleaded guilty to mail fraud after being accused of using different names on applications for loans and credit, court records show. He was sentenced to five years' probation, but has been able to travel.

Journalist Gordon Moseley and CNN's Phil Gast contributed to this report.