It’s September 11, 2001, you’re staying at a hotel in New York City, you’re an Egyptian named Abdallah Higazy, and, in your hotel room closet, a device that allows for communications with airline pilots is found. Not surprisingly, he was picked up and questioned. Surprisingly, he confessed. Why is that surprising? Well, because a pilot returned to the hotel and asked for his radio back! Higazy was promptly released.
So why did Mr. Higazy confess? We know why because he sued the hotel and the FBI. They tried to have the case tossed and they … lost! The Court of Appeals ruled that the case may proceed. The 44-page opinion was posted on the Court’s website, as reported by Psychsound, who was amazed to read that the FBI obtained the “confession” through some serious coercion.
Higazy alleges that during the polygraph, Templeton told him that he should cooperate, and explained that if Higazy did not cooperate, the FBI would make his brother “live in scrutiny” and would “make sure that Egyptian security gives [his] family hell.” Templeton later admitted that he knew how the Egyptian security forces operated: “that they had a security service, 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 later said, “I knew that I couldn’t prove my innocence, and I knew that my family was in danger.” He explained that “[t]he only thing that went through my head was oh, my God, I am screwed and my family’s in danger. If I say this device is mine, I’m screwed and my family is going to be safe. If I say this device is not mine, I’m screwed and my family’s in danger. And Agent Templeton made it quite clear that cooperate had to mean saying something else other than this device is not mine.”
So you can check out the opinion on the Court’s website, right? Wrong! As Psychsound was reading it, it disappeared, only to appear the next day in redacted form! I’m sure you can guess what was redacted. (Hint: EVERYTHING about how the coerced confession was obtained). Just one small problem – someone managed to download the opinion in its entirety before it was yanked. You can still read it here on the How Appealing website. To read A LOT more about this incredible case, check out Psychsound’s blog here.