A Saudi student questioned in connection to the bombing of the Boston Marathon is not being deported, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told a House panel Thursday.
“I am unaware of anyone who is being deported for national security concerns at all related to Boston. I don’t know where that rumor came from,” Napolitano said.
The first Saudi student is not a suspect in the Boston bombings but was hospitalized after the attack and questioned. Authorities also searched his apartment in Revere, a suburb of Boston.
The second student, who was arrested for an administrative immigration violation, has not been charged with a crime and is not believed to have any connection with the bombing, according to an administration official.
“These rumors are wrong,” a White House official said. “This is a totally different individual who is not the individual that was questioned in connection with Boston. And this individual is in custody for reasons unrelated to Boston.”
Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) asked Napolitano about whether the wounded student was being deported at a budget hearing on Thursday.
Duncan argued that the administration was committing a grave mistake by deporting someone who was a witness to the bombing.
“I want them to do their job and that’s why I say, wouldn’t you agree with me that it’s negligent for us as an American administration to deport someone who was reportedly at the scene of the bombing. And we’re going to deport him, not to be able to question him anymore. Is that not negligent?”
Napolitano said Duncan’s question was based on reports that were not true and that her office would give him the real story.
“I’m not going to answer that question. It is so full of misstatements and misapprehensions that it’s just not worthy of an answer,” she responded. “There has been so much reported on this that’s wrong, I can’t even begin to tell you congressman. We will provide you with accurate information as it becomes available.”
An administration official told The Hill that ICE officers have arrested a Saudi student in the Boston area for violating his visa by failing to sign up for school.
But this is not the same student who was injured in the attack and who has been the subject of numerous published reports since the Monday bombings that killed three people and injured more than 170.
Suggestions that a Saudi witness to the attack was being deported took on new life after reports of a meeting between President Obama, Saudi Foreign Minister Saud Al-Faisal and Ambassador Adel Al-Jubeir at the White House on Wednesday, a meeting that was not initially on the president's schedule.
Obama was joining a meeting led by National Security Adviser Tom Donilon that focused on the steps ahead in Syria, according to the White House.
The confluence of events fueled suspicion among people with misgivings about the U.S.-Saudi relationship.
A Saudi royal, Prince Sultan bin Fahd, and several members of his entourage were able to quickly leave the country after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, with the help of U.S. law enforcement.
There have been several incorrect reports about the Boston bombings, including news stories on Wednesday that an arrest had been made.
Authorities so far have released no suspects and made no arrests.