ACLU Files Lawsuit Challenging Unconstitutional "No Fly List"
List Blocks People From Flying Without Explanation Or Due Process
WASHINGTON - The American Civil Liberties Union today
filed a first-of-its-kind lawsuit on behalf of 10 U.S. citizens and
lawful residents who are prohibited from flying to or from the United
States or over U.S. airspace because they are on the government's "No
Fly List." None of the individuals in the lawsuit, including a disabled
U.S. Marine Corps veteran stranded in Egypt and a U.S. Army veteran
stuck in Colombia, have been told why they are on the list or given a
chance to clear their names.
"More and more Americans who have
done nothing wrong find themselves unable to fly, and in some cases
unable to return to the U.S., without any explanation whatsoever from
the government," said Ben Wizner, staff attorney with the ACLU National
Security Project. "A secret list that deprives people of the right to
fly and places them into effective exile without any opportunity to
object is both un-American and unconstitutional."
The ACLU, along with its affiliates
in Oregon, Southern California, Northern California and New Mexico,
filed the lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Justice, the FBI and
the Terrorist Screening Center in U.S. District Court for the District
of Oregon. The plaintiffs on the case are:
• Ayman Latif, a U.S. citizen and
disabled Marine veteran living in Egypt who has been barred from flying
to the United States and, as a result, cannot take a required Veterans'
Administration disability evaluation;
• Raymond Earl Knaeble, a U.S.
citizen and U.S. Army veteran who is stuck in Santa Marta, Colombia
after being denied boarding on a flight to the United States;
• Steven Washburn, a U.S. citizen
and U.S. Air Force veteran who was prevented from flying from Europe to
the United States or Mexico; he eventually flew to Brazil, from there to
Peru, and from there to Mexico, where he was detained and finally
escorted across the border by U.S. and Mexican officials;
• Samir Mohamed Ahmed Mohamed,
Abdullatif Muthanna, Nagib Ali Ghaleb and Saleh A. Omar, three American
citizens and a lawful permanent resident of the United States who were
prevented from flying home to the U.S. after visiting family members in
• Mohamed Sheikh Abdirahman
Kariye, a U.S. citizen and resident of Portland, Oregon who was
prevented from flying to visit his daughter who is in high school in
• Adama Bah, a citizen of Guinea
who was granted political asylum in the United States, where she has
lived since she was two, who was barred from flying from New York to
Chicago for work; and
• Halime Sat, a German citizen and
lawful permanent resident of the United States who lives in California
with her U.S.-citizen husband who was barred from flying from Long
Beach, California to Oakland to attend a conference and has since had to
cancel plane travel to participate in educational programs and her
family reunion in Germany.
According to the ACLU's legal
complaint, thousands of people have been added to the "No Fly List" and
barred from commercial air travel without any opportunity to learn about
or refute the basis for their inclusion on the list. The result is a
vast and growing list of individuals who, on the basis of error or
innuendo, have been deemed too dangerous to fly but who are too harmless
"Without a reasonable way for people
to challenge their inclusion on the list, there's no way to keep
innocent people off it," said Nusrat Choudhury, a staff attorney with
the ACLU National Security Project. "The government's decision to
prevent people from flying without giving them a chance to defend
themselves has a huge impact on people's lives - including their ability
to perform their jobs, see their families and, in the case of U.S.
citizens, to return home to the United States from abroad."
In addition to Wizner and Choudhury,
attorneys on the case are Kevin Díaz and cooperating attorney Steven
Wilker with the ACLU of Oregon; Ahilan Arulanantham, Jennie Pasquarella
and cooperating attorney Reem Salahi with the ACLU of Southern
California; Alan Schlosser and Julia Harumi Mass of the ACLU of Northern
California; and Laura Ives of the ACLU of New Mexico. The Council on
American-Islamic Relations consulted with Raymond Knaeble and directed
him to the ACLU.
The ACLU's complaint is available
online at: www.aclu.org/national-
More information about the ACLU's lawsuit is available online at: www.aclu.org/national-
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) conserves America's original civic values working in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in the United States by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.