FBI Sued for Warrantless GPS Surveillance of Calif. Muslim Suit says bureau violated student's First, Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights
(WASHINGTON, D.C., 3/2/11) -- The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today filed a civil rights lawsuit against the FBI on behalf of a California Muslim who found a secret GPS tracking device that was placed on his car without first obtaining a warrant.
CAIR announced the filing of the lawsuit at a Capitol Hill news conference in Washington, D.C., attended by Yasir Afifi, the Santa Clara, Calif., student who discovered the device when he took his car in for an oil change. A friend of Afifi's posted pictures of the device online, asking if anyone knew what it was. FBI agents later demanded that the device be returned to the bureau.
The lawsuit, filed today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, states that the FBI violated Afifi's First, Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights when the bureau failed to obtain a warrant to place the GPS tracking device on his car to monitor his daily activities.
Afifi's lawsuit, which names Attorney General Eric Holder, FBI Director Robert Muellerand "unknown" FBI agents as defendants, seeks an order preventing another tracking device being attached to his vehicle without a search warrant. The requested order would also bar the FBI from using tracking devices without first obtaining a search warrant.
The lawsuit states: "Defendants' actions, orders, and authorizations, which deprived Plaintiff of his right to be free from unreasonable warrantless searches, give rise to a cause of action for damages directly under the Fourth Amendment...
"Defendants' unlawful intrusions into Mr. Afifi's life -- initiated as a result of his heritage, lawful associations, and disclosed political views -- create an objective chill on Mr. Afifi'sFirst Amendment activities. In addition to the fear Mr. Afifi now feels when expressing his political views and maintaining certain lawful associations, Defendants' actions have deterred others from associating with him, prospective employers most notably."
Last week, CAIR's Greater Los Angeles Area chapter (CAIR-LA) and the ACLU of Southern California announced a federal class action lawsuit against the FBI for illegal surveillance of the Muslim community.
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.