Former IRA man held by U.S. authorities

An Irish citizen who was once convicted on IRA charges is being held in U.S. federal custody pending a probable cause and detention hearing scheduled for Tuesday.

He was accused of lying about his past to immigration officials while trying to get into the US.

Donald Browne from Derry arrived in Boston on a British Airways flight from London on Thursday. While filling out immigration paperwork, Browne answered ``no'' to a question asking him if he had ever been convicted of two or more crimes which carried a total prison term of five years or more.

However, the U.S. immigration authorities government continue to describe former IRA Prisoners of War as criminal convicts and not political prisoners.

Browne faces a maximum of 25 years in prison, followed by five years of probation, and a 250,000 US dollars (around #150,000) fine if convicted on the immigration charges.


Last week, a Colorado immigration judge denied political asylum to former Volunteer Ciaran Ferry

Ferry, whose wife and daughter are American citizens, was deemed ineligible for asylum because of a past conviction for a ``serious nonpolitical crime'' in the North of Ireland.

An appeal against the decision, by immigration judge James Vandello, is being filed on Ferry's behalf. A writ of habeas corpus has also been filed on behalf of Ferry, who has been imprisoned since Jan. 30.

Ferry was detained when he turned up for a green-card interview accompanied by his wife. He has spent most of the time since in solitary confinement.

Ferry has opted against being housed with the general population in Denver County Jail, arguing that he is not a criminal.

The Ferrys have a 2-year-old daughter, Fiona. The couple had lived in Belfast for a time but decided to settle in Arvada, Colorado, after Ciaran Ferry's name was found by police on a loyalist death list.

During the August asylum hearing, Ferry stated that the FBI had offered to have him freed from jail if he gave information, but that he had declined in part on the grounds that such a move would endanger his relatives in the North.

In response to the ruling, Ferry's wife Heaven is now expected to undertake a speaking tour of several cities.

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