Beliefnet
Detroit, Dec. 6--(AP) It's been a year since Rabih Haddad was arrested on a visa violation, but supporters of the jailed charity co-founder want to make sure his plight is not forgotten. "No one ... could have imagined or believed it would be this long," said Haddad's wife, Salma Al-Rushaid.

Federal authorities accuse Global Relief Foundation of funneling money to al-Qaida, legal challenges have been made over secret court hearings and the local Muslim community is in an uproar over Haddad's case.

On Saturday, one year after his arrest, The Free Rabih Haddad Committee planned a rally in Ann Arbor. "We just want to make sure that people don't forget that Rabih is sitting there," member Kristine Abouzahr said.

Haddad, 42, has said the group is strictly a humanitarian organization. Neither him nor Global Relief has been charged with a terror-related crime - only the visa violation. That's what Haddad's supporters say angers them most. "They're portraying him as so dangerous. ... What has he done?" Al-Rushaid said.

The suburban Chicago offices of Global Relief Foundation were raided and Haddad was arrested Dec. 14, 2001. The federal government says Global Relief received substantial funding from a suspected financier of al-Qaida and alleges the charity had contact with Osama bin Laden's former personal secretary.

Last month, an immigration judge denied political asylum for Haddad, a Lebanese citizen, his Kuwaiti wife and three of their children. They were ordered removed from the United States, but an expected appeal could delay deportation. All are accused of overstaying their visas, though only Haddad is jailed.

Al-Rushaid said she worries about her husband's health. He is in solitary confinement and leaves his cell for one hour a day, for showers and phone calls, she said. "He does not see the sun. He does not get fresh air. ... He's yellow," she said. Emotionally, his faith has kept him up, she said, but "I wonder how long, how long can a person endure."

Haddad's early hearings were closed to the public, sparking lawsuits from the American Civil Liberties Union and others who argued the proceedings must be open. An appeals court agreed in August, though parts of later hearings were closed.

The government argued opening the hearings could allow terrorists to gain information that could threaten U.S. security.

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