A man was arrested this weekend at Detroit Metro Airport with a pressure cooker in his luggage, and while he will remain in jail for the time being, his lawyer, James Howarth, says that having the device doesn't make him a criminal, according to USA Today.
Hussain Al Khawahir was accused of willfully and knowingly using an altered Saudi Arabian passport with missing pages and making a false statement to U.S. Customs and Border Protection enforcement officers about the pressure cooker. He appeared in U.S. District Court on Tuesday, where he waived his right to a detention hearing, which would determine if he would be released or remain in jail.
Even if released, he would remain in jail, according to his lawyer, because U.S. Customs and Border Protection put a hold on him.
"He hasn't done anything," Howarth said after the hearing.
Khawahir communicated through an interpreter, saying that he has 12 years of education and reads and understands Arabic.
Pressure cookers were used in the bombing at the Boston Marathon last month, though Khawahir says he didn't know anything about that.
"The combination of facts, including an altered passport and false statements, raised concerns," U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade said in a statement. "Although we never want to jump to conclusions, we have a duty to conduct an appropriate investigation to protect the public."
The criminal complaint filed Monday in U.S. District Court says that Khawahir flew from Saudi Arabia via Amsterdam, and that he initially told customs officers that he brought the pressure cooker for a nephew because pressure cookers aren't sold in America. The man then changed his story, saying his nephew purchased a pressure cooker in America before, but it was cheap and broke after the first use.
Pages 33 and 34 were removed from Khawahir's passport, and he claimed he didn't know how they were removed, according to the complaint.
"The defendant stated that the passport was locked in a box that only he, his wife and three minor children have access to, in his home," the complaint stated.
"Did the pages fall out?" Howarth asked. "I don't know."
Howarth says that as Khawahir doesn't speak English, officials at the airport likely misunderstood him.
People from Saudi Arabia commonly travel with pressure cookers because of how they prepare food, according to Howarth. His nephew said he wanted the device to prepare lamb, according to the Associated Press.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for May 28.