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Intel boss wants no part in engineers controversy

Intel Corp. Chief Executive Officer Craig Barrett has made it clear that he will not enter the fray over the arrest and detention of Intel contract engineer Maher 'Mike' Hawash.

Responding to questions from Hawash supporters, including several former Intel executives, Barrett explained in a Friday e-mail that he does not intend 'to act on loose and inaccurate interpretations of the circumstances surrounding (Hawash's) detainment.'

Hawash, 38, was arrested by the Portland FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force at Intel's Hillsboro offices March 20. Since then, the Palestinian-American has been held without charges in Sheridan Federal Prison under a 1984 statute that allows the government to hold important witnesses to ensure they will testify.

His detention has been reviewed and approved by U.S. District Judge Robert Jones.

Friends and supporters of Hawash have organized forcefully on his behalf, depicting him as an upstanding citizen who was hauled off to prison without explanation. The Web site FreeMikeHawash.org received more than 45,000 hits in one day last week.

Hawash worked full time for Intel from 1992 to 2001 and has been a contract engineer for the company since then.

'I have no reason to suspect that the U.S. Government is acting in anything other than good faith,' Barrett wrote in his e-mail.

Steven McGeady, a former Intel vice president who is raising money for Hawash's defense, told Barrett that he can expect more questions about Hawash.

In an e-mail Saturday, McGeady wrote, 'Intel's current position is being interpreted by many as being negative, rather than neutral, and as presupposing Mike's guilt, rather than his innocence.'

McGeady is trying to convince Intel to rehire Hawash as a contract engineer if he is released without charges. Intel has not agreed to such a commitment.