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Shakeel Kahn

Shakeel Kahn

A former Casper doctor who is being held in a Nebraska jail on drug conspiracy charges has submitted a handwritten court filing alleging jailers are violating his constitutional right to practice his religion.

In federal court documents filed earlier this month, Shakeel A. Kahn claims that he was placed and remains in solitary confinement for practicing Islam. Kahn asked the federal judge presiding over the case to order jail staff “to cease their religious persecution and restore all rights and freedoms to all Muslims.”

Kahn is being held at the Scotts Bluff County Detention Center in Gering, Nebraska.

The prosecution has not yet filed a response to Kahn’s claims relating to his right to practice his religion. Jail director Joseph Gaul declined to comment Friday. He said he may have more information on Monday.

Kahn also filed two additional documents on the same day. One asks to have more freedom to contact his wife, Lyn Kahn, who is also a defendant in the case. The second asks for dismissal of one of the 23 charges he faces in the case.

The prosecution filed responses this week asking that those two requests be denied.

In his complaint on religious grounds, Kahn also claims that his requests for Halal meals were ignored for three weeks, during which he subsisted on bread and water alone. He wrote that he lost 13 pounds during that time period and wrote that “such treatment smacks of torture.”

Kahn wrote that he has been in solitary confinement since July 24. He attached paperwork signed by the jail director that indicates Kahn was placed in solitary confinement as the result of a “safety and security threat.”

Kahn claims that he was deemed such a threat because jailers believe the Quran is a violent book and because Kahn had used religious expressions that “alarmed” jail staff. He wrote that his first amendment rights to freedom of speech and religion are being violated.

Kahn also wrote that he has recently been disallowed from showering before his evening prayer, which he says is required to practice his faith. He argued the lack of access to evening showers is a show of “pure hate.”

Kahn was arrested in November 2016 by federal agents and Casper police after a months-long investigation. He was later charged in a federal case that alleges he improperly distributed prescription drugs. He has been representing himself in a series of appeals filed since July, when his lawyers withdrew from the case. The reason for their withdrawal is not clear, because documents relating to the withdrawal are under court seal.

The appeals, written by hand and mailed from the jail, note that Kahn is representing himself on a temporary basis and has not waived his right to a lawyer.

Kahn has been assigned a standby lawyer, who could take over the appeals if necessary.

No date has been set for a judge to hear arguments on Kahn’s motions.

Follow crime reporter Shane Sanderson on Twitter @shanersanderson


Crime and Courts Reporter

Shane Sanderson is a Star-Tribune reporter who primarily covers criminal justice. Sanderson is a proud University of Missouri graduate. Lately, he’s been reading Cormac McCarthy and cooking Italian food. He writes about his own life in his free time.

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