NY Man Put On No-Fly List After Refusing To Spy For FBI, Lawsuit Says

Civil Rights


The Huffington Post, 10/07/2013

Is the FBI using its notorious no-fly list as a way to retaliate against Muslim Americans who refuse to spy for them? It might be, according to a new lawsuit.

Muhammed Tanvir, of Queens, N.Y., says he was asked by the FBI to spy on the Muslim community to which he belongs and was put on the no-fly list when he refused, Courthouse News reported on Thursday.

Now, with the backing of the Center for Constitutional Rights, he's suing officials in the FBI, the TSA and the Department of Homeland Security.

Tanvir's lawsuit notes that he is a lawful permanent resident who works at a dollar store in the Bronx and does not pose a terror threat. Tanvir wants the FBI's alleged practice of punishing Muslims who refuse to cooperate with the agency's spying programs declared unconstitutional, Courthouse News notes.

The FBI declined to comment when contacted by The Huffington Post.

However, Tanvir's story is not so unusual.

Kevin Iraniha, a pro-Palestinian activist with a master's degree in international law, said he was mysteriously questioned by the FBI after a trip he took to the Middle East, according to journalist and Middle East expert Shirin Sadeghi. He later found himself on a no-fly list while trying to fly to San Diego from Costa Rica, Sadeghi explained in a blog for The Huffington Post.

"They put you on a no-fly list and then to get off of it they say, oh, we want you to be an informant," Iraniha told Sadeghi last year. The law student eventually returned to California by flying to Mexico and walking across the border, the San Diego Union Tribune reported.

There are more than a dozen others who say similar things have happened to them. A group of American Muslims sued the federal government last year for allegedly putting them on the watch list as a way to coerce them into becoming informants.

In a victory for the plaintiffs, a federal judge ruled in August that the government's placement of them on the no-fly list unfairly painted them as suspected terrorists and "altered their ability to lawfully board planes," the ACLU reported.