- The Washington Times - Friday, January 18, 2002

NEW YORK (AP) Shouting "nothing tops freedom," an Egyptian student yesterday said he didn't blame the FBI for pursuing charges against him after an aviation radio was found in his hotel room near the World Trade Center on September 11.

Abdallah Higazy, 30, was released late Wednesday because another hotel guest a private pilot told officials the radio was his.

"To be absolutely honest, I don't blame the FBI for thinking it was mine," Mr. Higazy said after about a month in custody.

Mr. Higazy, the son of an Egyptian diplomat and a former serviceman in the Egyptian Air Corps, had been charged with lying to investigators looking into the attack that demolished the 110-story twin towers.

The radio, called a transceiver, is marketed for use by pilots, enabling them to communicate air-to-air and air-to-ground with other pilots or to monitor other pilot conversations.

Robert Dunn, Mr. Higazy's attorney, said he wanted to know how investigators came to believe that the hand-held radio was found in a safe in Mr. Higazy's room at the Millennium Hilton Hotel when it belonged to someone else staying one floor below his client.

The lawyer also said he wanted to know whether investigators were provided erroneous information or whether something "more ominous and sinister happened."

Charges were dismissed on Wednesday, two days after the other guest told officials the radio was his, said Marvin Smilon, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office. The FBI verified the claim.

The FBI initially said a hotel employee found the radio in a safe in Mr. Higazy's room along with his Egyptian passport, a copy of the Koran and a gold medallion.

But according to a document filed Wednesday by prosecutors, the employee later said he found the radio on a table in Mr. Higazy's room on the 51st floor.

Prosecutors said it was not clear how the radio got to Mr. Higazy's room from the 50th floor, where the pilot was staying. They said the two guests had no contact.

Mr. Higazy was enrolled at Polytechnic University in Brooklyn in September as a graduate student in computer engineering. Authorities said a student aid group in Washington directed him to stay at the hotel until he could find more permanent housing. He checked in on Aug. 27 and was scheduled to check out on Sept. 25.

The hotel was evacuated on September 11. Mr. Higazy was arrested on Dec. 17 after he returned to the still-closed hotel to retrieve his possessions. Prosecutors said he denied the radio was his, then told them it was.

The charges were dismissed without prejudice, meaning they could be filed again, Mr. Smilon said.

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