Sunday, September 24, 2023
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Sunday, September 24, 2023 | Back issues
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No Bounty for Tipster |of Alleged Gaza Flotilla

(CN) - A man who says anti-Israel organizations are building boats in the U.S. for use by Hamas in the Gaza Strip cannot claim a bounty unless the government decides to seize the vessels, the D.C. Circuit ruled.

Alan Bauer claims he told the U.S. government about boats, and that he has a right under the Neutrality Act to pursue seizure of the property himself and claim half the forfeited vessels' value as his share of the bounty.

The government declined to participate in Bauer's suit.

The Act, passed in 1794, makes it illegal to furnish or arm a vessel within the U.S. if it is intended for use against a foreign state with whom the nation is at peace. It also and grants one half the value of the seized property to the informer.

However, the D.C. Circuit ruled last week that the Act does not give citizens a private right of action to pursue their interest in a potential reward.

"An informer under the Neutrality Act has nothing more than an inchoate and conditional interest in a bounty, which hinges on whether the government pursues a forfeiture action," U.S. Circuit Judge Harry Edwards said, writing for the three-judge panel. "Therefore, an informer like Dr. Bauer cannot establish either injury-in-fact or redressability and has no standing to pursue this action on his own to enforce the Government's interests in neutrality in foreign affairs."

Other laws passed in the U.S.'s early history explicitly authorized informers to sue, but the Act contains no such language. In addition, no federal case has ever held that the Act allows private parties to pursue forfeiture on their own.

The panel said, "the Neutrality Act was a 'bounty only' statute. No judicial decision of which we are aware has ever construed the Neutrality Act to afford standing to a private party to prosecute an alleged criminal infraction or to independently pursue a forfeiture claim."

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