Thursday, June 1, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Feds Blasted Over Confiscated Passport

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - A federal judge gave the government eight days to return a diabetic U.S. citizen's passport after officials took it, denied him food, water and medical treatment and forced him to sign a document he couldn't read.

Mosed Shaye Omar was born in Yemen, located in the Arabian peninsula of Southeast Asia, in 1951. He immigrated to the U.S. in 1972, was adopted by his uncle after his parents died and became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1978.

In July 2012, he traveled to Sana'a, Yemen, to help his youngest daughter obtain a passport, but had his own passport confiscated when he tried to return to the United States for medical reasons. He says he was interrogated at the U.S. embassy where he claims due process laws were ignored.

Omar, a diabetic, says he became weak after he was refused food and water, but wasn't able to call relatives because his cellphone had also been taken.

He claims he was told he couldn't have his passport back until he signed a paper, which he did but could not read because of blurred vision. Omar was then told his passport was being held because he "had another name," later discovering the document he signed was a statement admitting he had "used a false name" and had "committed various other acts."

Omar remained stranded in Yemen until February 2014 when he was granted a temporary passport - which was subsequently confiscated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection when his plane landed in the United States.

Omar sued the U.S. Department of State, Secretary of State John Kerry, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Passport Services Brenda Sprague and Acting Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs Michele Bond earlier this year, alleging violations of the U.S. Constitution and seeking an order that his passport be returned.

U.S. District Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley granted the injunction on Tuesday.

"Plaintiff has shown a likelihood of success and serious legal issues regarding his challenge to defendants' revocation of his passport and the balance of hardships weighs in his favor," Corley said in a 19-page order directing the U.S. government to fork over the passport.

"The government revoked plaintiff's passport solely on a written statement that plaintiff signed without reading or understanding, and only after he had been deprived of food, water and medication for hours and was desperate for a return of his passport so he could travel to the United States to obtain medical care," she said.

Corley said it was likely Omar would prove his passport was revoked without the benefit of due process and that he "also raised at least serious questions as to whether defendants applied the appropriate standard of review to his passport revocation and whether the revocation is an improper and incomplete collateral challenge to his citizenship."

Omar's attorney, Yaman Salahi, did not immediately respond to an after-hours call on Wednesday.

He has until Oct. 30 to file a motion for summary judgment, and Corley set a hearing on the motion for Dec. 10.

Read the Top 8

Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.