German-Syrian man sues over detention at US airport

A German businessman of Syrian descent has sued US and local law enforcement officials, alleging they mistreated him after detaining him in December 2006 at the Las Vegas airport and tried to coerce him into becoming an informant for the US. The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in US District Court in Nevada, alleges that agents unlawfully held Mohamed Majed Chehade Refai, also known as Majed Chehade and Majed Shehadeh, in a North Las Vegas detention center for three nights. The lawsuit names an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent, the city of North Las Vegas and the North Las Vegas Police Department. Lawyers for Chehade claim that their client was denied heart medication for 36 hours despite a recent heart surgery, was treated roughly on the way to the detention center from Las Vegas' McCarran International Airport and forced to submit to a body cavity and strip search. Chehade, 63, said in a statement released by the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights in San Francisco that federal agents who interrogated him told him that they wanted him to return to Germany and provide them information about people who expressed anti-American sentiment. He was released Dec. 31, 2006, and allowed to fly back to Germany, the lawsuit said.