The U.S. citizen who was arrested last week who authorities say was carrying more than $78,000 in cash and a laptop containing information about nuclear materials will continue to be held by federal authorities after prosecutors appealed a ruling which would have set him free on bond.
Sisayehiticha Dinssa appeared in federal court yesterday for a detention hearing and was granted a $20,000 unsecured bond by a federal magistrate. The prosecutors in the case objected and appealed the ruling to a district court judge asserting he was a flight risk. Judge Paul Borman agreed and overturned the magistrate's ruling. Dinssa is currently in the detention of the U.S. Marshals in Detroit.
Dinssa was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents after he was flagged for secondary inspection on entry to the U.S. at the Detroit Airport. Customs officials became suspicious of Dinssa when a narcotics dog signalled the scent of drugs on the money in his possession.
THE BLOTTER RECOMMENDS
Customs officers also discovered that Dinssa was in possession of a laptop computer for which he had no power source. During an initial look at the computer, "inspectors discovered some files that had been downloaded with information about cyanide and nuclear materials," an affidavit from an ICE agent filed in the U.S. District Court in Detroit noted.
According to two senior U.S. government officials briefed on the matter, the files appear to beyond what someone would normally download from the Internet. According to the U.S. officials, Dinssa may have been researching the materials extensively.
In addition to the downloaded articles about nuclear facilities, investigators say there was an article about suicide in reference to cyanide, which concerned them. Officials say there are hundreds of downloaded articles on the computer. Forensic analysis is still underway by ICE.
Jonathan Epstein, a lawyer in the federal defender's office, said he had not been able to review the entire contents of what was on Mr. Dinssa's computer, but he said that his client had lost the power cord for the computer and had not used it in four months. "These are benign articles, protected forms of speech," Epstein said. He also added there is no way to know who used the computer overseas.
Dinssa's brother came to the hearing from Arizona and told the judge his brother didn't have any connection to terrorists.
According to Epstein, Dinssa had been overseas in Kenya for several years and had decided to return to the U.S. so he brought all of his money and possessions with him.