TAMPA — The University of South Florida graduate who was acquitted of federal explosives charges sued the government Wednesday, claiming his application to become a U.S. citizen is being unnecessarily delayed.
Youssef Megahed, 24, of Tampa was arrested in August 2007 with USF student Ahmed Mohamed in Goose Creek, S.C.
Mohamed was pulled over for speeding, and authorities found PVC pipes filled with a potassium nitrate mixture in his trunk. He said they were sugar rockets.
Megahed was charged with illegal transportation of explosive materials and possession of a destructive device. Neither man was convicted on these charges, but Mohamed received a 15-year sentence after an FBI investigation found he posted an Internet video showing how to make a toy car remote into a detonator.
After his April 2009 acquittal, Megahed was rearrested for a deportation hearing and later released. The Egyptian national said he has not come any closer to citizenship.
Megahed first applied for citizenship in July 2007. His family gained citizenship in 2009.
"I want to continue living here in this country and being treated as everyone else in this country, as a citizen," Megahed said.
The suit was filed against the U.S. attorney general, secretary of homeland security, FBI director, and the U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Service's national director and Tampa field office director.
Megahed said he found work after graduation but plans to continue his education.
He'd like to do that as a citizen.
"I think (my application isn't being considered), maybe as a way of punishing me because they could not convict me in a court," he explained.