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US teen 'clock maker' files suit against former Texas school and city, from Qatar

The family of Ahmed Mohamed, a 14-year-old arrested in Texas for bringing a homemade clock that was mistaken for a bomb to school, has demanded millions in damages and an apology. He has since emigrated to Qatar.

Lawyers of the family of 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed have filed suit for $15 million (14.1 million euros) against his former school and the Texas city of Irving which arrested him in an apparent misunderstanding over a homemade clock which authorities mistook for a bomb.

In letters to the city of Irving and the Irving Independent School District, lawyers said the ninth grader was wrongfully arrested, illegally detained and questioned without his parents present.

The family is asking for $10 million from the city and $5 million from the school district or they will file civil lawsuits within 60 days, the letter said.

"Ahmed clearly was singled out because of his race, national origin and religion," attorney Kelly Hollingsworth wrote.

The teenage son of Somali immigrants became an overnight sensation in September after his sister tweeted a photo of the aspiring inventor standing in handcuffs while wearing a t-shirt with the US space agency NASA's logo.

Case sparks debate

The case became a hot button issue over alleged Islamophobia among public officials. His lawyers accuse the school, police department and city officials of violating his civil rights by wrongfully accusing and detaining him and then decided to "trash" him when the media got wind of the story.

US President Barack Obama lent his support by inviting Ahmed to the White House in what was seen as a pointed rebuke to school and police officials amidst accusations of Islamophobia.

The school district said in a statement its lawyers were reviewing the letter. City officials were not immediately available for comment.

The boy's family moved to Qatar in October after the teen accepted an offer from the Qatar Foundation to study as part of its Young Innovators Program.

jar/jm (AFP, Reuters)

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