updated 5/30/2007 11:56:03 PM ET 2007-05-31T03:56:03

A Middle Eastern man jailed for nearly four years must be released by June 8 because the government, which wants to deport him, has taken too long to find a country that will take him, a federal judge has ruled.

U.S. District Court Judge Jerome B. Friedman said in his order issued Friday that the government violated Majed Talat Hajbeh's constitutional rights and that he must be released within 14 days of the order.

"The court finds it difficult to conceive how his continued confinement remains reasonable," the judge wrote. "There is no significant likelihood of removal in the reasonably foreseeable future."

Hajbeh was arrested and detained in 2003 in a sweep of suspected immigration violators. An immigration judge ordered him deported, reasoning that Hajbeh entered incorrect information on papers when he entered the United States in 1993. Hajbeh said he made a mistake when he checked "single" instead of "married."

The judge did not take into account that Hajbeh was acquitted in federal court of a criminal charge of falsifying the document.

The government had tried to deport him to Jordan, where he has was convicted in absentia in 1999 of plotting the bombings of an American school and other targets. The Jordanian government later overturned the convictions of his co-defendants, but his conviction stands because he has never returned to Jordan.

Hajbeh argued the conviction was invalid. The departments of Justice and Homeland Security had fought to keep him in jail, contending he is a danger to the community based on the conviction.

The deportation order was suspended because of evidence that Hajbeh would face torture if returned to Jordan. Immigration authorities have been searching for another country where he could live freely with his family.

Lawyers for the federal government said officials have been trying for at least 1 1/2 years to get Israel to take Hajbeh, a Palestinian by birth who was raised in Jordan, and allow him to live in the Palestinian territories.

Hajbeh worked as a soil engineer before his detention. He had been living in Woodbridge, where his wife and seven children remain.

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