CAIRO – American civil rights groups have applauded a court decision to remove a Malaysian professor from no-fly list, seeing it the first victory against the much criticized American list.
“Judge [William] Alsup’s ruling affirms that basic notions of transparency and accountability apply to even the US government’s ‘no-fly’ list,” Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus (AAAJ-ALC) staff attorney Nasrina Bargzie said in a press release by the Council on American-Islamic Relations on Wednesday, January 15.
“We welcome this ruling and look forward to further clarity as to how one can navigate the maze created by the ‘no-fly’ list and other similar listings,” she added.
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The lawsuit, filed by San Jose-based McManis Faulkner in 2006 on behalf of the mother of four children and a PhD student at Stanford University, alleged that the government violated Dr. Rahinah Ibrahim’s due process rights when it placed her on the “no-fly” list.
US District Court Judge Alsup ruled that Dr. Ibrahim had standing to challenge the government’s actions, ordered the government to correct Ibrahim’s position on the “no-fly” list and to disclose to her what said position was.
The judge kept his detailed ruling under seal until April 15 so the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals can rule on the government’s appeal to toss out the lawsuit.
The US Department of Justice has refused to disclose Ibrahim’s current flight status throughout her eight-year legal fight, including during a two-week bench trial late last year.
Several similar lawsuits are pending across the nation, but Ibrahim’s legal challenge appears to be the first to go to trial.
Following the lawsuit over the past eight years, the Council on American-Islamic Relations welcomed the court ruling as a much awaited victory.
“This victory has been a long time coming,” said CAIR-SFBA Executive Director Zahra Billoo.
“Each year our offices hear from hundreds of individuals who are visited by the FBI and face related travel issues.
“Many have lost hope about clearing their names, but this case will renew our collective desire to continue forward with the courts on our side,” she added
Established in 2003 and administrated by the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center, the “no-fly” list includes some 20,000 people deemed by the agency as known to have, or reasonably suspected of having, ties to terrorism.
About 500 of them are US citizens, according to an agency spokesman.
Earlier in February, A US Muslim Air Force veteran had complained of being barred from leaving the country after being allowed to care for his terminally-ill mother.
In May 2012, fifteen American Muslims, including four military veterans, sued the federal government over being placed on a “no-fly” list for no apparent reason.
Earlier in 2011, an American Muslim family was kicked off a JetBlue flight because their 18-month child was flagged as no-fly.
In 2009, nine members of a Muslim family were removed from a domestic AirTran Airways flight to Orlando, Florida, after they chatted about their seats in the plane.
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