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Pittsburgh scientist says government axed him for speaking his mind

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Abdel Moniem Ali El-Ganayni, a nuclear physicist, has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), claiming it revoked his security clearance and fired him because of his ethnicity, his Muslim faith and his criticism of the war in Iraq.

El-Ganayni lost his job at the government’s Bettis Atomic Power Laboratory in West Mifflin in May, shortly after the DOE’s acting deputy secretary pulled his security clearance, citing national security reasons.

Following interviews with a DOE agent and the FBI in October 2007, the department suspended El-Ganayni’s clearance. That resulted in a demotion. He said the interviews focused on his religious beliefs, money he sent overseas and comments he made in 2006 at a local mosque criticizing the war.

“What I said about the Iraq war, many Americans have said, and many senators,” El-Ganayni said. “But when I said this, I became like a traitor.”

El-Ganayni, who was born in Egypt and became a naturalized citizen in 1988, is a founding member and past president of the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh.

In addition to his lawsuit, he is pursuing a hearing to contest the revocation of his security clearance. Officials at Bettis said they would rehire him if his clearance were restored.

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