transcript with the Allegator Alley suspects

below is the entire transcript of the interview of Butt, Gheith, and Choudary, from CNN archives. Interviewer is Aaron Brown.

Ahead on NEWSNIGHT: the three medical students who were at the center of the nation's attention for much of the day. They join us on NEWSNIGHT from New York.



AYMAN GHEITH: But we were talking about what we were going to do. I'm sorry, in Miami.

BROWN: That you were on to your way in a medical class in Miami. When you were in the restaurant was there any tension in the restaurant? Did you have a sense that you were being watched?

GHEITH: Not at all.


OMER CHOUDHARY: Very comfortable.

GHEITH: And actually, I mean, to give credit to Shoney, the server was very nice. Everybody was very nice.

BUTT: No indication.

CHOUDHARY: No weird stares, no awkward looks. Nice meal.

BROWN: So when was the first time that you came to believe you were about to have a memorable day?

CHOUDHARY: Well, I mean. When we got pulled over. And then rather than the officer approaching us, they said, "Get out of the car. Get on your knees and put your hands behind your back." And that's when I...

BUTT: Three squad cars were behind me. I knew that it wasn't just going to be an average, you know, pull over.

BROWN: It wasn't just a traffic stop. Did you run a toll gate, by the way? Is that part of the story?

BUTT: No. I was the one being implicated for not paying the toll. I paid the toll, and as a matter of fact, then after me, Ayman paid the toll again.

GHEITH: So the state of Florida owes me a dollar. $1.50. I pulled up to the toll. Do you want to hear the story?

BROWN: Yes. Absolutely.

GHEITH: OK. Real Quick. I pulled up to the toll booth, OK. The lady at the toll booth, a nice young lady, she didn't speak English too well. All right? She looked nervous. I saw it on her face. I saw a cop car take off after Kambiz, so I asked her, "Is everything OK?" She said "Yes. No." I was like, "Well, did he pay? Is that the problem?" I'm looking at her hand. She has the money in her hand. She said, "No, he didn't pay." I was like, "All right. Then I'll pay. How much do I owe you?" "Three dollars." $1.50 for me, $1.50 for him, and I got a receipt. And then I thought everything was OK and we took off.

BROWN: And how soon after...

GHEITH: Next thing I knew, somebody was yelling at us.

BUTT: Immediately.

CHOUDARY: Immediately afterwards, we had cars behind us. One, then two, then three, and before I knew it, they just -- I heard a voice said "pull over and get out of the car."

BROWN: OK. A couple more here. When we first started hearing the story they were describing you all as uncooperative. First of all, tell me what they were asking; and second of all, tell me if you view how you behaved as uncooperative or not.

BUTT: OK. Well, actually our interrogation didn't begin until the FBI came into the scene.

GHEITH: Right.

BUTT: And as far as the local police were concerned, they wouldn't answer any questions. The whole time, I kept repeating myself and asking, "Why are we being pulled over? Why is this happening?" Well, they just told us, "We can't tell you, because it's not in our authority."

CHOUDARY: At 11:30 when we got handcuffed and placed in the squad cars, we were each in an individual car. From that time onwards, we were never told why we were pulled over. I found out, I think, an hour or so before we were released this morning or this afternoon.

BROWN: What kind of questions did they ask you?

CHOUDARY: About 4:30.

GHEITH: Everything.

BROWN: Like what?

BUTT: Where were you born?

CHOUDARY: We answered questions about where we were from.

GHEITH: Where were you born? How long have you been a U.S. citizen? I mean, questions like...

BUTT: Why are you going to Miami?

GHEITH: What business do you have in Miami? Who are your friends? They asked me about 100 people. Do you know this person? Do you know that person? Do you know this person. No. I don't. Why are you going to Miami. What are you doing in Miami?

CHOUDARY: What do you think of America?

GHEITH: What do you think of America?

CHOUDARY: They asked us a lot of questions. I was asked about nationality. They asked me where I'm from. I told them I was born here in Detroit, Michigan. I'm U.S. citizen, obviously, because I was born here. Yet they kept emphasizing that my parents are from Pakistan and that I'm from Pakistan. I told them that, you know, everyone has their roots somewhere. My parents were from Pakistan, but I was born here. It seemed like they were making that an important point, that I was a foreigner.

BUTT: Right.

GHEITH: I got hammered more with 9/11.

BROWN: We have about 45 seconds left. Let me -- tell me what you learned today. One of you.

GHEITH: I learned one thing. Can I?

BROWN: Please.

GHEITH: One thing I learned that -- OK, in justice, regardless against who is wrong, whether you be Muslim, whether you be black, white, Hispanic, Chinese, Jewish, I would like just to make a request.

For every person in the United States, this is an address to the U.S., America, to my people. If you know this is wrong, and you do know this is wrong, get up and call your congressman, please. Because it is against us today; tomorrow it could be against you. Whether you be white or black, it doesn't make a difference. Because injustice is injustice. It's going to be wrong.

There is no contradiction between the word Islam and the word American. There is no contribution in terms. And I hope that the American people will realize it some day.

BROWN: Gentlemen, I think from our side of life, we can't imagine what it's like to walk in your shoes today, for whatever reason you ended up in that. We appreciate very much you joining us tonight. Thank you very much.

GHEITH: No problem. BROWN: And good luck to you.


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