On September 10, two weeks later, Judge Coffin is expected to announce whether he will release Seda on bail. This time there are fewer people in the courtroom: It’s just Seda’s boys sitting in the front, along with their stepmother, Summer Rife, who’s wearing a hijab and burka; Seda’s two brothers, who live in Oregon; lawyer Tom Nelson in a yellow-and-white-striped tie and dark suit; and a few friends, including Copeland and Thatcher. Seda looks hopeful.
Judge Coffin lectures Cardani and says that after hearing testimony from Seda’s friends in Ashland, he doesn’t believe the government’s argument. He orders Seda’s release. Out in the hallway, there’s hugging and congratulations. But the celebration proves to be short-lived. Two hours later, the court reconvenes, and Cardani approaches the bench.
“With all due respect, I have never appealed an adverse decision in this court in the 15 years I’ve been here,” says the Department of Justice prosecutor. “I’ve had consultations with my direct supervisor and with the U.S. Attorney. And respectfully, it’s the government’s desire to seek a review by Judge Hogan.”
Judge Coffin harshly reiterates his ruling for the record, but despite his opposition, judicial process requires him to allow the case to be reviewed by the court’s senior judicial official, chief Judge Michael Hogan, a conservative U.S. District Court judge. Seda is led out of the courtroom and returned to his cell at the Lane County Jail, where he’ll remain behind bars for nearly four months, until Hogan, in agreement with Coffin, finally signs his release on the last day of November.
Meanwhile, back in Portland, his sons are dejected. At the Stumptown coffee shop in the bottom of the Ace Hotel, Jonah, a goateed auto-repair student at Portland Community College shrouded in Mountain Hardware fleece, says he’d struggled to keep his composure when he went to visit his father in jail, speaking to him on a telephone, separated by bullet-proof glass.
“It makes me so sad—someone who’s dedicated his life to helping others, and I have to see him like that through a glass pane,” says Jonah. On the other side of the window, he says, his father smiled back at him, saying, “I love you. Everything will work out.”
In Riyadh, Soliman al Buthe has endured his own share of hardships. Not long after the September 11 attacks, he was summoned to the Saudi Ministry of the Interior, where he was interrogated about his travels to Ashland and the money he brought in and out of the country. In the spring of 2002, he resigned his volunteer position at al Haramain, because, he says, he wanted to spend time with his family after his 4 1/2-year-old son, Muhammad, died of a heart defect.