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Second Court Ruling Redacts Information About Interrogation
"That's impossible," Higazy responded, according to court records.
Over the next 10 days, Higazy insisted the radio was not his, and a federal judge warned the FBI and federal prosecutors that if they did not produce better evidence, he would let Higazy go on Dec. 28. The FBI suspected that he had used the radio as a beacon to help guide the hijackers.
According to both the sealed and public court records, the FBI on Dec. 27 set out to increase the pressure on Higazy. It put him in a room with Templeton, who was a polygraph examiner. Templeton concluded that Higazy was being evasive in his answers about the attacks.
As a series of questions neared an end, Higazy requested a halt because he was feeling intense pain in his arm and could not breathe. The court's decision, quoting Higazy's account, said Templeton "called Higazy a baby and told him that a nine-year-old could tolerate his pain."
Templeton also allegedly told Higazy that if he did not cooperate, the FBI would make his brother "live in scrutiny" and would "make sure that Egyptian security gives [his] family hell," according to the sealed portion of the ruling. Templeton allegedly banged on the table and screamed at Higazy, calling him a liar.
The ruling also said Templeton admitted to knowing how the Egyptian security forces operated: "that their laws are different than ours, that they are probably allowed to do things in that country where they don't advise people of their rights, they don't -- yeah, probably about torture, sure."
Higazy confessed to owning the radio, though he provided three versions of how he had obtained it. He was denied bail the next day and was charged on Jan. 11, 2002, with making false statements connected to the Sept. 11 attacks.
Three days later, an airline pilot from Ohio who had stayed one floor below Higazy on Sept. 11 walked into the Millenium Hilton and asked for his radio. Within two days, Higazy was released, and a hotel security guard eventually pleaded guilty to making false statements to FBI agents about the location of the radio.
"What if that pilot had not walked into the Millenium Hotel?" Abady said. "We know that Mr. Higazy could have spent the rest of his life in prison."
Catherine O'Hagan Wolfe, clerk for the appellate court, said the original Higazy ruling was withdrawn to remove information that should have been sealed. She said that the court made the decision and that it was not done at the request of the Justice Department or the FBI.
Wolfe said the redacted information was originally sealed for the safety of Higazy and his family. The passage that was removed is about a page long and centers on Higazy's allegations of Templeton's threats and his fears of Egyptian security services.
"Prior to the world of the Internet, a decision would be issued and then withdrawn without any consequences of any moment," Wolfe said. "Now if that happens it raises the specter of interference or some nefarious intent at work, which is not the case."
Stephen Bergstein, an appellate lawyer from Chester, N.Y., who hosts a blog about 2nd Circuit issues, said the information that was deleted "was more embarrassing than worthy of secrecy."
"Had they left it in, a lot of people probably wouldn't have noticed," Bergstein said. "With the Internet, nothing ever goes away."
Staff researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.