Federal Judge: Yes, Man On No-Fly List Can Sue Government

A federal judge yesterday allowed a Virginia man’s challenge to his placement on the mysterious no-fly list to go forward.

The AP reports that the man, Gulet Mohamed, discovered he was on the list in 2011 after attempting to fly home to the United States from Kuwait. Kuwaiti authorities detained him, and he was unable to return to the US until after he filed a federal lawsuit challenging his placement on the no-fly list.

The government did not reveal or explain why Mohamed, a US citizen who resides just outside of Washington, DC, was placed on the no-fly list, because the government does not reveal or explain why any particular individual is placed on the no-fly list other than “reasonable suspicion to believe that a person is a known or suspected terrorist.”

The no-fly list works in mysterious ways indeed. It casts a very wide net of names; even babies and senators have been erroneously included. Back in 2010, nearly 82,000 individuals had asked to be removed from the list.

Lawyers representing the government were attempting to have the case dismissed, but Judge Anthony Trenga, in a 32-page ruling, determined that Mohamed’s suit should be allowed to continue.

Trenga ruled that Mohamed’s status on the no-fly list has caused him significant harm, and that he has a Constitutional right to challenge it. He also had harsh words for the list in general, writing that, “the No Fly List implicates some of our basic freedoms and liberties as well as the question of whether we will embrace those basic freedoms when it is most difficult.”

The Justice Department will be reviewing the ruling, a spokesman told the AP.

VA. Man’s Challenge to No-Fly List Clears Hurdle [Associated Press]

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