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Saturday, June 15, 2024 | Back issues
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Terror-Snooping Case Will Proceed

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - A lawsuit from U.S. citizens who say they were entered into a federal counterterrorism database for "suspicious activity," but were doing nothing wrong, will continue in Federal Court, a judge ruled.

Lead plaintiff Wiley Gill and four other California men sued the Department of Justice in July 2014. They are represented by the ACLU and Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Asian Law Caucus.

The lawsuit challenges the federal government's Suspicious Activity Reporting program, in which state and local law enforcement authorities submit reports about activity that could be related to terrorism.

The ACLU says the program "targets First Amendment-protected activity, encourages racial profiling, and violates federal law."

"The standards defining 'suspicious activity' do not require any reasonable suspicion of criminal activity," the ALCU says.

The plaintiffs claim they were wrongfully flagged as suspects for performing innocuous activities, such as photographing landmarks or playing a flight simulator game.

In October 2014, the DOJ and Program Manager - Information Sharing Environment, also named as a defendant, filed a motion to dismiss, contending the plaintiffs lack standing. They argued that the plaintiffs' injuries arise not from the federal program, but from the conduct of the local authorities who submitted the reports.

U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg rejected the motion on Feb. 20. He found that the plaintiffs claim injuries from what happens after the encounters with local authorities.

"Defendants also imply that merely being the subject of [a suspicious activity report], in the national database, should not be deemed a cognizable injury," Seeborg wrote. "In light of the privacy and reputational injuries involved, however, this argument is not tenable."

A case management conference has been set for March 12.

To contact Arvin Temkar email [email protected]

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