Sameh Khouzam is an Egyptian national who escaped Egypt in 1998 after being tortured for his religious beliefs. Khouzam is an Orthodox Christian, and after spending eight years in U.S. prisons, he was finally released in early 2006 after a federal court granted him a deferral of removal under the Convention Against Torture.

On Tuesday, May 29, 2007, during a routine check-in with immigration officials, as required under his parole, Khouzam was detained by Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) and told that he would be deported to Egypt on Friday, June 1. The Department of Homeland Security stated that it had received "diplomatic assurances" from the Egyptian government that Khouzam would not be tortured. Khouzam is wanted by Egyptian officials on highly questionable homicide charges.

On January 10, 2008, Judge Thomas Vanaskie ruled that "freedom from torture is a fundamental right," stopped Khouzam's deportation, and ordered his immediate release. On January 15, Khouam was released from York County Prison, pending the government 's appeal of the decision to the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals.

Related information

ACLU-PA blog posts on the case at Speaking Freely

"Principal methods of torture reportedly employed by the police and the SSIS included stripping and blindfolding victims; suspending victims from a ceiling or doorframe with feet just touching the floor; beating victims with fists, whips, metal rods, or other objects; using electrical shocks; and dousing victims with cold water. Victims frequently reported being subjected to threats and forced to sign blank papers for use against themselves or their families should they in the future lodge complaints about the torture. Some victims, including male and female detainees and children, reported sexual assaults or threats of rape against themselves or family members. While the law requires security authorities to keep written records of detentions, human rights groups reported that the lack of such records often effectively blocked investigations."
--U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, 2006 Country Report on Human Rights Practice on Egypt

Khouzam v. Ashcroft, 2nd Circuit decision in 2004 granting Sameh a "deferral of removal" under the Convention Against Torture (PDF, 69K)

Letter of support from the Institute on Religion and Public Policy, June 1, 2007 (PDF, 39K)

Letter from Senator Robert Casey, Jr., to DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff, June 7, 2007 (PDF, 1.5M)

Rep. Joseph Pitts (R-Lancaster) Statement for the Record opposing deportation, June 15, 2007 (PDF, 70K)

Press Releases


Witold Walczak, Mary Catherine Roper (ACLU of PA); Amrit Singh, Judy Rabinovitz, Lee Gelernt, Alice Clapman (ACLU, Immigrants' Rights Project); Morton Sklar (World Organization for Human Rights USA)

Date filed

June 4, 2007


US Middle District