Family challenges Oregon lawyer’s arrest

WICHITA, Kan. – Brandon Mayfield’s children got their Spanishhomework back from federal terrorism investigators.

More than a week after the Oregon lawyer was arrested inconnection with Spain’s worst terrorist attack, family members inOregon and Kansas are mounting a public campaign to win hisfreedom.

“We are getting really desperate and really scared,” said KentMayfield, his younger brother.

He and their mother, AvNell, went to Aloha, Ore., to be withMayfield’s wife, Mona, and the couple’s three children, ages 10, 12and 15.

AvNell Mayfield and Brandon’s stepmother, Ruth Alexander, havesince established a fund – which they are calling Mothers ForFreedom – to help pay for his legal expenses.

Family members back home in Kansas are also putting together aWeb page to spur public opinion for his release, Ruth Alexandersaid.

Mayfield, who has not been charged with any crime, is being heldunder a 1984 material witness statute.

Family members said federal agents have since returned some, butnot all of the searched property following an order from U.S.District Judge Robert Jones. Among the returned property was thechildren’s homework.

But of far greater concern to family members is Mayfield’sfreedom.

“I just want my husband back,” said Mona Mayfield.

She tells their three children to be pray and be patient, andshe tries to do the same.

The children are having a hard time sleeping at night.

Mayfield converted to Islam in 1989, a year after his marriageto Mona.

“I am just upset for how long it is taking,” Mona Mayfield said.”I don’t understand it.”

Brandon Mayfield was taken into custody at his suburban lawoffice May 6 after his fingerprint was allegedly found on a plasticbag in a van near the Alcala de Henares train station outsideMadrid. The bag contained detonators that officials say were of thesame kind used to blow up four commuter trains in the Spanishcapital on March 11, killing 191 people and injuring 2,000others.

While the FBI is reportedly convinced the fingerprint in Madridbelongs to Mayfield, Spanish officials and some U.S. experts haveraised doubts that it is a match.

Mayfield grew up in and around Halstead, a small farming townabout 30 miles north of Wichita where much of his family stilllives.

Kent Mayfield, 35, has taken a leave of absence from histeaching job in Hutchinson to go to Oregon. He visited his brotherlast Sunday, taking with him Mayfield’s oldest son to see hisfather.

“It is difficult; he is doing the best he can. He knows he isinnocent. … He is being held hostage by the government,” KentMayfield said.

Under the material witness statute, prosecutors can seek anarrest warrant and hold an individual without filing charges if thewitness’ testimony is crucial and there is a reasonable risk thewitness might flee. The Bush administration has used to the statuteto detain possible terror suspects without filing charges.

Family members – some of whom are unhappy with his publicdefense attorneys – are trying to raise money to retain a privatelawyer, Kent Mayfield said.

“Nobody should be incarcerated in this country without dueprocess or being charged,” he said. “He is in jail. His family hasbeen wrecked.”