Pakistani-American Technologists Receive US Congress' Largest Ever Award to Settle Wrongful Termination Claims

Five Pakistani-American information technologists have quietly been awarded $850,000, the largest ever award by US Congress, to settle discrimination and wrongful termination claims, according to the New York Times. Awan's accusers included President Donald Trump and the right-wing US media.  Recipients include Imran Awan; his wife, Hina Alvi; his brothers Abid and Jamal Awan; and friend Rao Abbas. They were accused in February 2017 of violating House security rules and later fired, and Awan eventually pleaded guilty to a relatively minor, unrelated offense of making a false statement on a bank loan application. "What started as a relatively ordinary House inquiry into procurement irregularities by Imran Awan, three members of his family and a friend, who had a bustling practice providing members of Congress with technology support, was twisted into lurid accusations of hacking government information", reports the New York Times.   

Imran Awan

Who is Imran Awan? 

Imran Awan was born in in Pakistan in 1980. He received his permanent resident status after his family won the green card lottery. After emigrating to the U.S. in 1997, Awan worked at a fast-food restaurant while attending community college, then transferred to Johns Hopkins University where he earned a degree a bachelor's degree in computer science. 

He became a US citizen in 2004 and lived in suburban northern Virginia near Washington, D.C.  His first job was as an information technology specialist for then-Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Fla, that earned him $165,000-a-year salary. 

Conspiracy Theory:

In April 2018, President Donald Trump demanded that Imran Awan be investigated for espionage in several posts on Twitter. He referred to Awan as the "Pakistani mystery man", and tweeted in June 2018 that "Our Justice Department must not let Awan & Debbie Wasserman Schultz off the hook." 

Just days after Awan was cleared of espionage accusations, Trump again brought up the conspiracy theory during a press conference with Vladimir Putin at a summit in Helsinki, asking "what happened to the servers of the Pakistani gentleman that worked on the DNC (Democratic National Committee)?" 

Islamophobia:

Were Trump and other accusers of Imran Awan motivated by Islamophobia? Congressman Ted Deutch thinks so.  

“It is tragic and outrageous the way right-wing media and Republicans all the way up to President Trump attempted to destroy the lives of an immigrant Muslim-American family based on scurrilous allegations,” said Ted Deutch, Democrat of Florida, who had employed Mr. Awan and is chairman of the Ethics Committee. “Their names were smeared on cable TV, their children were harassed at school, and they genuinely feared for their lives,” Mr. Deutch added. “The settlement is an acknowledgment of the wrong done to this family.”

Summary:

Pakistani-American IT specialist Imran Awan and four other members of his family have been awarded $850,000 to settle their claims of wrongful termination. Awan's accusers included President Donald Trump and his right-wing supporters in the US media. US Congressman Ted Deutch believes the accusations against Awan and his associates were motivated by Islamophobia. 

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