Attorney General William Barr has quietly reopened an asylum case that was closed almost 15 years ago. The case involves a former military officer from Bangladesh, Rashed Chowdhury.
After Bangladesh won its independence from Pakistan in 1971, its first leader, Sheikh Mujib was seen as an authoritarian leader. An immigration judge noted that “peaceful means of political change were not available to opponents of Sheikh Mujib’s regime in August 1975.” Therefore, military officers decided to launch a coup where they eventually killed the president. Although Chawdhury was a military official at the time, he was sent to seize control of a radio station and was not involved in the killing of the president.
The immigration judge of the case found that Chowdhury was “a last-minute inductee who played a relatively minor role [in the coup].” Further, after the coup, “Bangladesh amended its constitution to grant immunity to the coup’s participants.”
Afterwards, one of Mujib’s surviving daughters, Sheikh Hasina, became president while Chowdhury was the top diplomat at Bangladesh’s embassy in Brazil. Instead of going back to Bangladesh, Chowdhury fled to the U.S. and sought asylum. Now, Hasina’s government wants the U.S. to extradite Chawdhury so he could face a death penalty.
Jeremy McKinney, the first vice president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said “Taking anyone’s immigration case more than a decade after the issue has been resolved and deciding to reopen it is disturbing to our association… to think that nothing can truly be final.”