San Jose Mercury News
By Julia Prodis Sulek
SAN JOSE — Five days after the father of a teenage stowaway flew to Hawaii to reunite with his son, Hawaii social service agency officials have yet to allow the San Jose cabdriver and Somali refugee to see him, sources told this newspaper.
Abdulahi Abdi Yusuf arrived in Honolulu Monday with fresh clothing and gifts for his son, hoping to bring him home to Santa Clara.
Yusuf is upset that he is not being allowed to see 15-year-old Yahya Abdi, sources say.
“He could not see him. They won’t let him see him or visit him or talk to him,” said Mukhtar Guled, the cousin of Yusuf’s wife and Yahya’s stepmother, Saiban Abdi.
“When he comes back to here — I don’t know how it’s going to happen,” Guled said.
When asked if Yusuf will be able to bring him home at some point, Guled responded, “They won’t allow him to see him. How can he bring him back?”
A spokeswoman with the Hawaii Department of Human Services sent out a news release Friday saying officials would not provide information about the case or the teen, who has been hospitalized with breathing difficulties.
“Citing privacy and confidentiality, Child Welfare Services will not disclose any information regarding the current status of the 15 year-old youth who stowed away in a Hawaiian Airlines wheel well on April 20, 2014,” said the release, sent by Kayla Rosenfeld, Communications Specialist & Public Information Officer for the agency. “If information becomes available for release, the DHS will send out an update.”
Yahya has been in the agency’s custody since shortly after he was found on the Maui airport tarmac, asking for water and weaving as he walked.
He told officials in Hawaii that he hopped a fence at Mineta San Jose International Airport sometime overnight on April 19, went to the nearest plane and climbed into the wheel well, where he fell asleep. He woke up as it was taking off on April 20, then passed out on the plane as it ascended after takeoff.
Yahya woke up about an hour after he landed and told officials there that he had been in an argument with his father and stepmother and was trying to get to Africa to find his birth mother.
Shortly after the news of Yahya’s flight became public, Guled, who has a family dispute with Yahya’s stepmother, claimed that Yahya was mistreated by the stepmother and his father. The family, however, denies those claims.
Guled said on Friday that the boy has only very few clothes and often wears the same clothing repeatedly.
When Yahya will be released and to whom is unclear.
But a source close to the family confirmed that the father has been denied access to his son and doesn’t know when he will come home or if he will ultimately be able to bring the teenager with him.
Before Yusuf left to go to Hawaii, he said in a statement that he was “excited to bring him back home to his family in California.”
Contact Julia Prodis Sulek at email@example.com