Muslim Man May Prove Illegal FBI Search
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (CN) - FBI agents may have illegally spied on a Muslim man to prove their mistaken belief that he was connected to a "terrorist threat," a federal judge ruled.
Syed Abid Iqbal's third amended complaint, which he filed pro se, claims that the abuse stemmed from his Dec. 2, 2008, visit to the FBI office in Jacksonville, seeking help for his friends.
What Iqbal did not know at the time was that the FBI agents believed his concerns were related to their ongoing investigation of a "planned attack," according to the complaint.
Over the next few days, the agents allegedly questioned Iqbal repeatedly about certain suspicious communications, including an email sent the previous week to the Transportation Security Administration, they believed he had sent.
In one six-hour interrogation, an agent threatened to charge him with a criminal offense, subjected him to a polygraph, berated him and "subjected plaintiff to enhanced interrogation technique[s] known as stress position and submission position," the complaint states.
Iqbal says he was never given a bathroom break, kept in a "stress" position and restricted his movements on a chair, causing him pain.
In addition to calling to a "bad Muslim," the agents also allegedly made sexual remarks about women in his family.
Iqbal says the FBI electronically monitored his home without a warrant after his release.
They allegedly listened to his phone calls, read his emails and text messages, and recorded a prayer said "in the privacy of [his] ome."
In another interrogation, the agents threatened him further by saying that the prayer recording proved Iqbal's guilt, according to the complaint. They allegedly made "racist" statements about him and promised that their investigation would keep him from working and supporting his family.
Iqbal says agents knew all along that he was in no way related to any known or "imminent terrorist threat."
The physical and psychological pain inflicted by the FBI allegedly led Iqbal to lose his job as an IT professional and enter bankruptcy.
U.S. District Judge Roy Dalton Jr. noted that five counts from Iqbal's complaint remained pending last week against four individual FBI agents.
In a 21-page ruling, he dismissed a fifth man as a defendant based on the lack of any factual allegations against him.
The judge dismissed most of the counts with prejudice, leaving Iqbal to plead only unreasonable search in violation of the Fourth Amendment.
Agents Jason Skinner, Brett Eubank, Terry Wetmore and Paxton Stelly are the remaining defendants.
"Here, plaintiff's allegations sufficiently state a constitutional violation," Dalton wrote. "Plaintiff is entitled to a reasonable expectation of privacy in conversations and religion practices conducted in his own home, and the alleged warrantless intrusion into that privacy violates the Fourth Amendment."