- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 30, 2008

ASSOCIATED PRESS

A graduate student at Georgetown University who was born in Iran sued the school yesterday, saying security officers engaged in racial profiling when they detained him at a graduation ceremony last year.

Kambiz Fattahi, 30, said in the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court that two Georgetown security guards interrogated him for a half hour during the May 18 ceremony on campus.

He said the officers told him that his behavior, which included repeatedly opening his bag, was making other people nervous. The lawsuit says the officers asked him about his national origin and searched his bag before letting him go.

Mr. Fattahi filed a complaint with the university’s public-safety division, but an investigation concluded the officers had not acted improperly. The university report said Mr. Fattahi was asked about his heritage in case he needed a translator.

But Mr. Fattahi, who has lived in the U.S. since 2001 and speaks English, said he was only checking his cell phone in his bag and thinks he was targeted for his “Middle-Eastern appearance.”

“They mocked my national origin,” Mr. Fattahi said this week.

Georgetown spokeswoman Julie Green Bataille said the school could not comment on the lawsuit but can be “expected to defend [itself] vigorously.”

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages, though Mr. Fattahi said his true purpose is to expose the way Georgetown handled the case. The university offered him a private “letter of regret” last week, an overture he rejected.

Mr. Fattahi holds dual Iranian and American citizenship. He is a graduate student in Georgetown’s security studies program and lives in Arlington. According to the lawsuit, he also works for the British Broadcasting Corp.’s Persian language news service.


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