Tigard man stuck in Tunisia returns home - KPTV - FOX 12

Tigard man stuck in Tunisia returns home

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

A Libyan-American man from Tigard is finally back home almost a month after the FBI refused to allow him to board a plane in north Africa.

Jamal Tarhuni arrived at Portland International Airport late Tuesday morning.

Tarhuni had been in Libya since October representing Medical Teams International of Tigard and helping his native country after the overthrow of Moammar Gadhafi.

At PDX, Tarhuni's 10-year-old son reached him first.

After kissing his family and embracing his friends, Tarhuni criticized the way agents of the American government have treated him. He says he was interrogated by the FBI, received no help from the American Embassy in Tunisia and was never told why he could not come home.

"I would like to thank everyone who has supported me in the last four-week ordeal," Tarhuni said. "Including my American friends, Libyan friends, Arab friends and Muslim friends."

Tarhuni is a naturalized American citizen who says he left Libya at age 18 and came to Oregon in 1974 to attend Portland State University.

The Tigard businessman says he's long opposed the regime of Gadhafi and contacted Medical Teams International last year to help them deliver aid to Libya after Gadhafi's death in October.

But when he was about to board a plane home from Tunisia, he says the FBI denied him permission.

"We asked the FBI, 'If you have anything against me or you've heard anything, bring it out in the open. Tell the public.' I haven't done anything to harm the United States,'" he says.

Tarhuni says the FBI asked him about who he's been talking to in Libya, his feelings about Muslim Sharia law and asked about his faith.

The FBI spokeswoman in Portland has said she could not comment on individual cases.

Tarhuni's wife and children could talk to him via Skype, but could not understand why he couldn't come home.

"We hope they just let him come through as easily as possible," says daughter Lina Tarhuni. "They've already had to suffer a lot. They've had a long trip."

Two hours after his plane landed, Tarhuni emerged.

But another Portland-area Muslim man, Mustafa Elogbi, who's also been in Libya, will not return until next week.

His wife says he was not allowed to travel on the same flight as Tarhuni.

"He's been a U.S. citizen for over 30 years and he doesn't have another home," said Annie Petrossian. "He needs to able to come back home."

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