The Homeland Security Department sent a letter apologizing to a Muslim woman who was detained at the Tampa airport and strip searched at a county jail.
Safana Jawad, 45, a Spanish citizen who was born in Iraq, was detained on April 11 because of a suspected tie to a suspicious person, authorities said. She was held for two days before being deported to England.
Jawad filed a complaint, and the agency apologized in a letter dated Dec. 8.
“On behalf of the Department of Homeland Security, I offer you my sincere apology for having to undergo a strip search,” wrote Timothy J. Keefer, acting chief counsel for the department’s Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.
The agency declined to release the name of the suspicious person in the case.
Department spokeswoman Joanna Gonzalez said it is standard practice to send a response letter to someone who complains. She said the agency does not track the number of apologies it issues.
Jawad was traveling to Clearwater to visit her 16-year-old son, who lived with her ex-husband, Ahmad Maki Kubba. Kubba, an Iraqi exile and American citizen for 27 years, was praised last year by Gov. Jeb. Bush for organizing a group to vote in Iraq’s election.
Kubba said his ex-wife’s detention prompted his son to move to Spain.
“I lost my son because of what happened,” Kubba said. “My son wanted to be in the U.S. Navy, and he speaks both English and Arabic. He would have been just what they are looking for. What they did to Jawad was unfair and is hurting America.”
A Pinellas County jail internal investigation cleared deputies of wrongdoing in the case.
“We followed the same protocol with her as with any inmate,” Sgt. Jim Bordner said.