The family of a Texas teenager, arrested for bringing a homemade clock to school that was mistaken for a bomb, demanded $15 million in damages and an apology from the city of Irving and its schools to avoid a lawsuit, lawyers said on Monday.
The lawyers represent the family of Ahmed Mohamed, 14, a Muslim student who dabbles in robotics and attended a Dallas-area high school. His arrest in September sparked controversy, with many saying he was taken into custody because of his religion.
In separate letters to the city of Irving, located west of Dallas, and the Irving Independent School District, lawyers said the ninth grader was wrongfully arrested, illegally detained and questioned without his parents.
The Mohamed family is asking for $10 million from the city and $5 million from the school district or they will file civil lawsuits within 60 days, the letter said.
“Understandably, Mr. Mohamed was furious at the treatment of his son – and at the rancid, openly discriminatory intent that motivated it,” attorneys said in one of the letters.
City and school district officials were not immediately available for comment.
The boy’s family said in October that they would be moving to Qatar and he had accepted an offer from the Qatar Foundation to study at its Young Innovators Program. The announcement came a few hours after he was at the White House for an astronomy night hosted by President Barack Obama.
Ahmed won support from Obama and other major U.S. figures, including Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg, who said “having the skill and ambition to build something cool should lead to applause, not arrest.”
The family, now living in Doha, has also traveled the globe to meet foreign dignitaries.
Sudanese state radio reported that his father took him to meet Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. The Sudanese leader is accused by the International Criminal Court of masterminding genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes during Sudan’s Darfur conflict.
Despite several television appearances and worldwide travel, the Mohamed family insists the attention actually ruined their lives and eventually drove them out of the country, lawyers said.
(Editing by Jon Herskovitz and Jonathan Oatis)