Magazine article Newsweek

The Wrong Man; Brandon Mayfield Speaks out on a Badly Botched Arrest

Magazine article Newsweek

The Wrong Man; Brandon Mayfield Speaks out on a Badly Botched Arrest

Article excerpt

Byline: Andrew Murr, With Michael Isikoff, Eric Pape and Mike Elkin

He's been home for more than a week now, back with his wife and kids and grateful to be putting his life back together. But Brandon Mayfield, the Portland, Ore., lawyer who was wrongly jailed for 14 days as a "material witness" in the deadly Madrid bombings, is still mad as hell. Mad at the FBI, for insisting his fingerprint had been found on a plastic bag used by the terrorists--even though Mayfield hadn't traveled abroad in a decade and the Spanish authorities doubted the print match. Madder still at the Justice Department, for using the material-witness law to round him up on flimsy evidence and then bolstering the shaky case against him by painting him as a Muslim extremist. (The affidavit that helped secure his arrest made much of the fact that he had converted to Islam, is married to an Egyptian-born woman and had once briefly represented a member of the "Portland Seven" in a child-custody case.) "Even though I was arrested as a material witness, don't be confused," Mayfield told NEWSWEEK in a phone interview Friday. "They were telling the judge and the world that they've got a fingerprint that's a 100 percent match... What are the implications of that, legally? It's a death sentence."

Mayfield says the Feds left no doubt that they considered him a suspect, not a witness. When he was arrested at his office on May 6, FBI agents cuffed his hands behind his back. He asked them to remove the cuffs, explaining that he wanted to avoid public humiliation in the parking lot. "The agent said, 'Don't worry about it. The media is right behind us'," Mayfield recalls. "I was pretty blown away. Is this the way they do business? They call in the helicopters, SWAT teams, the whole world, the media?"

Spanish authorities put an end to the ordeal when they announced that the fingerprint actually belonged to Ouhnane Daoud, an Algerian living in Spain. …

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