Indian filmmaker Vijay Kumar leaves US (Lead, Changing dateline)September 15th, 2010 - 8:15 pm ICT by IANS
By Arun Kumar
Washington, Sep 15 (IANS) Indian documentary filmmaker Vijay Kumar, who was arrested and jailed in the US for carrying brass knuckles and “jehadi literature” in his baggage, has finally made a “voluntary departure” from Houston.
“Kumar is safely out of Houston,” said Grant Scheiner, Kumar’s attorney, Tuesday, confirming the end of a 25-day ordeal that began Aug 20 when he was detained at the Houston airport for unwittingly violating a Texas law forbidding persons from carrying brass knuckles at airports.
Kumar, 40, had pleaded no contest to the charges of illegally carrying brass knuckles in his luggage in exchange for time served, to avoid a lengthy trial. He claimed he was carrying jehadi literature to participate in a seminar in the US.
A resident of Malad in Mumbai, Kumar was sentenced to 20 days in jail and given credit for time served. Kumar agreed to the plea deal to avoid further jail time and immigration charges.
“He’s just a victim of circumstance,” said Scheiner. “They should have just dismissed the case once they found out he had relied on a TSA (Transportation Security Administration) website,” he said.
“He’d even checked the TSA regulations on the internet and was told it was OK to transport brass knuckles as long as they were in your checked-in bags,” the attorney said.
But as brass knuckles aren’t legal in Texas, Kumar, who was on his way to Vancouver, Canada, to attend a peace conference at the invitation of a Hindu organisation, was charged with carrying a prohibited weapon.
The judge ordered his passport seized, federal authorities revoked his visa and then immigration held him in Harris County jail for failure to have a passport.
“I don’t think he ever wants to come back to America again,” Scheiner said.
(Arun Kumar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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