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Saturday, July 20, 2024 | Back issues
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CIA, FBI Need not Divulge More to Citizen Detainee

(CN) - The CIA and FBI properly searched for documents related to Sharif Mobley's abduction and interrogation in Yemen, and found them classified, the D.C. Circuit ruled.

Sharif Mobley, a U.S. citizen abducted from the streets of Yemen's capital Sana'a and imprisoned in 2010, sued the Department of Justice under the Freedom of Information Act to obtain records detailing his capture and detention on suspicion of murder.

The reason for Mobley's initial arrest by Yemeni security forces remains unclear, but he is still being held in a Yemeni jail on allegations that he shot two hospital guards - one fatally - during an attempted escape from custody.

For the past six years, Mobley has sought information from the FBI, CIA, Department of Defense, and Department of State about his abduction, interrogation, and the "wider pattern of U.S.-sponsored sweeps and proxy detention in Yemen from January 2010, of which [his] seizure is a part."

He also sought all CIA records about him and his wife.

In 2012, U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell found that the Justice Department properly withheld 13 responsive documents under the national defense exemption. Mobley won only the release of an unclassified email exchange.

Mobley's request for documents from the CIA and FBI was similarly unsuccessful.

The D.C. Circuit upheld the government's nondisclosure of documents Friday.

"The district court, after reviewing in camera the FBI's classified declaration, acted within its sound discretion when it decided that it did not need to review the classified document in camera to conclude that the FBI withheld it as properly classified. Mobley points to no record evidence of bad faith," U.S. Circuit Judge Judith Rogers said, writing for the three-judge panel.

The court said the agencies were not required to search record systems Mobley unlikely to contain responsive documents just because the FOIA request made such a demand."Although an agency may not ignore a request to search specific record systems when a request reaches the agency before it has completed its search, a search is generally adequate where the agency has sufficiently explained its search process and why the specified record systems are not reasonably likely to contain responsive records," Rogers said.

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