Rights groups try to block Egyptian's deportation

Human-rights groups are fighting to stop the deportation of an Egyptian man, saying the administration of US President George W. Bush is trying to avoid a United Nations treaty that bars the deportation of foreigners who are likely to be tortured in their homelands. On Monday, lawyers for Sameh Khouzam asked a US District judge to give them until at least June 17 to make their case. If the request is denied, Khouzam could be returned to Egypt later this week. Khouzam, 38, flew to the United States one night in February 1998 amid unusual circumstances, according to court papers. Before his plane landed, Egyptian authorities told the US State Department that he was wanted for a murder committed only hours before his plane's departure, prompting US officials to cancel his visa and detain him. Khouzam, a Coptic Christian, promptly applied for asylum, saying he feared he would be subject to religious persecution if he were returned to Egypt, the papers said.