PORTLAND, Ore. - The U.S. government offers no adequate method for people to challenge their placement on its no-fly list, a federal judge ruled Tuesday in a case involving 13 Muslims who believe they're on the list.
U.S. District Court Judge Anna Brown found people lack a meaningful way to challenge their placement on the list, and the 13 people who sued the government have been unconstitutionally deprived of their right to fly.
"This should serve as wakeup call to the government," said American Civil Liberties Union attorney Hina Shamsi. "This decision also benefits other people wrongly stuck on the no-fly list because it affords them (an opportunity to challenge) a Kafkaesque bureaucracy."
This May 11, 2012 file photo, Portland Imam Mohamed Sheikh Abdirahman Kariye, who is one of 15 men who say their rights were violated because they are on the U.S. government's no-fly list, leaves the United Sates Court of Appeals following oral arguments on the ACLU No Fly List challenge, in Portland, Ore.
U.S. Justice Department spokeswoman Dena Iverson said government attorneys were reviewing the decision.
Thirteen people challenged their placement on the list in 2010, including four military veterans.
Initially, Brown said she couldn't rule on the case. In 2012, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed and sent the case back to her. Brown ruled in August that the 13 people challenging their presence on the list had a constitutional right to travel and, on Tuesday, found the government violated that right.
"For many," Brown wrote in Tuesday's decision, "international travel is a necessary aspect of liberties sacred to members of a free society."
The judge said placement on the no-fly list turns routine travel into an "odyssey," and some of those on the list have been subjected to detention and interrogation by foreign authorities.
The no-fly list, a well-protected government secret, decides who is barred from flying at U.S. airports, and is shared with ship captains and 22 other countries.