Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Muslim fired from nuclear warship job seeks review

A Muslim scientist who lost his security clearance and his job at a nuclear warship components plant deserves an administrative hearing to learn more about why he was fired and to ensure Department of Energy regulations were followed, his attorney told a federal judge Tuesday.

Abdel Moniem El-Ganayni, with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, sued the department this year, saying he was wrongly fired for speaking out against U.S. foreign policy and the alleged mistreatment of Muslims by the FBI.

Tuesday's hearing was not about getting El-Ganayni rehired, but to prevent Energy Department officials from hiding behind a claim of national security if he was actually discriminated against, said Witold "Vic" Walczak, legal director of the ACLU in Pennsylvania.

"If we win, he doesn't get his clearance back. He gets a hearing," Walczak explained after the one-hour session before U.S. District Judge Terrence McVerry.

The Egyptian-born scientist has been a U.S. citizen for 20 years. His Energy Department security clearance was suspended in December.

Deputy Energy Secretary Jeffrey Kupfer reviewed El-Ganayni's case and, in May, his clearance was revoked. He then was fired from Bettis Laboratory near Pittsburgh, where he had worked for more than 17 years.

According to El-Ganayni's lawsuit, Energy Department officials and the FBI had questioned him about speeches he made, his views on suicide bombings and the Quran, and a conflict he had with the Pennsylvania prison system, where he has ministered to Muslim prisoners. But El-Ganayni and his attorneys said he was never told specifically what information led him to lose his security clearance and job.


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