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No-Fly List Claim Booted From Appeals Court

(CN) - A federal judge should hear Homeland Security's defense of the tight-lipped responses it gives to questions about the no-fly list, the 9th Circuit ruled Monday.

Raymond Arjmand, a U.S. citizen born in Iran, has tried for years to find out if his name is on the government's no-fly list, more formally known as the Consolidated Terrorist Screening Database (TSDB).

He has suspected as much since being searched and detained several times at airports, including once while returning from a trip to Canada and another time returning from Mexico.

Arjmand said in a brief that the searches have caused him "great embarrassment, significant delays of several hours resulting in missed air flights and additional costs to purchase new flight tickets, and seizure of personal property, including electronic storage devices containing sensitive and privileged information."

In 2009 Arjmand complained to the Department of Homeland Security Traveler Redress Inquiry Program to find out if his name was on the list and, if so, to have it removed. Responding some two years later, the agency said that it had reviewed his case and "made any corrections to records that our inquiries determined were necessary."

The agency did not reveal, however, whether Arjmand's name was on the no-fly list, and said that it could not rule out future travel delays.

Though the government directed Arjmand to seek review in the U.S. Court of Appeals, one such panel with the 9th Circuit said Monday that was the wrong advice.

The appeals court has no original jurisdiction over "broad constitutional claims - such as Arjmand's - that seek removal from TSDB," according to the transfer order signed by Judge D.W. Nelson.

This is true because the court has no power to review the orders of the group responsible for the list - the Terrorist Screening Center, a multiagency federal government center administered by the FBI, the court noted.

The panel transferred the case to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

Nelson called the transfer consistent with two other recent jurisdictional rulings the 9th Circuit made regarding the no-fly list.

In 2012 the appeals court ruled in Latif v. Holder that U.S. district courts have original jurisdiction over claims that the government failed to allow a proper challenge to inclusion on the list.

That ruling expanded on Ibrahim I, which gave district courts original jurisdiction over Rahinah Ibrahim's challenges to inclusion on the list.

The claims behind Ibrahim I went to trial in San Francisco late last year, and a federal judge concluded just this past February that Ibrahim's name had been included on the list by mistake.

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