No-Fly List Blocks Swiss Exchange Student in Another 'Same Name' Error

A Swiss high school student who planned to take part in a foreign exchange program at Brattleboro Union High School in Brattleboro, Vt., was barred from flying to the United States.

His Swiss teacher said his name apparently appeared on a U.S. government watch list.

Teacher Katherine Conliffe said she had been told the Ethiopian-born boy's name and birth date match that of another person on the U.S. list.

The boy was identified by school officials only by his first name, Fuad. He lives in a suburb outside Geneva and is 17 years old. Officials say he is Muslim.

Sam Moyer, 17, a Brattleboro Union High School senior who lives in Putney, was expecting to spend the next 10 days with Fuad.

Earlier, Moyer had e-mailed Fuad a projected itinerary for the exchange trip, which included a ride on the Belle of Brattleboro boat, a trip to New York City and a special visit to the Andy Warhol exhibit at the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center.

Moyer said his family was preparing for the visit, and his mother had planned a week-and-a-half's worth of food without pork because Fuad is Muslim.

When Moyer got the word there might be a problem, the two boys exchanged e-mails. Fuad wrote that he hoped it would be sorted out in time. Moyer heard on Wednesday that he would not meet his partner this week.

``My parents had his room ready,'' said Moyer. ``I feel bad. I wanted to get to know him better. I wanted to hang out with him.''

Twenty of the Swiss boy's classmates got on an airplane on Thursday morning and flew to New England to take part in this year's Swiss-American exchange with students in Brattleboro Union High School's French program.

A staff member of Sen. Patrick Leahy's office unsuccessfully sought to intervene with the U.S. State Department.

Nobody knows what list his name is on.

``It is infuriating,'' Conliffe said Friday. ``If you have no prejudice and they treat you like that, of course you will. I don't think this is helping America.''

Fuad was born in Ethiopia and he moved to Switzerland with his family in 1994. He is Muslim and an Ethiopian national.

``He's never been in trouble. There have been no problems at school,'' Conliffe said. ``He worked all summer to make money for the trip. He didn't want his parents to pay. He's never been to America. It really is so sad.''

Leahy's office tried to help. ``We asked the State Department to expedite the situation, but unfortunately we ran out of time,'' said Leahy's spokesman David Carle.

Carle said Leahy happens to be working on legislation this week to amend the post-Sept. 11 watch list law. The senator wants to require the Department of Homeland Security to create a procedure for individuals who believe that they have been put on the watch list incorrectly and to develop legal criteria for putting names on the list.