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Man sues federal government for placing him on no-fly list

April 6, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 67.6%. 2 min read.

A Michigan man says government officials erroneously placed him on the "No Fly List" after he refused to become an FBI informant, according to a new federal lawsuit.

(CNN)A Michigan man says government officials erroneously placed him on the "No Fly List" after he refused to become an FBI informant, according to a new federal lawsuit.

Almost three years ago, Ahmad Chebli was approached by FBI agents who accused him of being part of Hezbollah, a terrorist organization -- an allegation that "shocked" Chebli and he has "vehemently denied," according to the lawsuit filed in US District Court of Washington, DC, on Tuesday.

The lawsuit, which was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, says the government "places people on the No Fly List based merely on a 'reasonable suspicion' that unconstitutionally vague criteria are satisfied.

U. S. citizens and residents on the No Fly List are disproportionately Muslim and those of Arab, Middle Eastern, or South Asian descent. "

This is frightening and wrong," Chebli said in a statement "When I refused to give in to government coercion, I was put on the no-fly list and now I'm indefinitely banned from flying to see family, do my job, or fulfill my religious obligations as a Muslim. "

As of June 2016, there were approximately 81,000 people on the No Fly List, about 1,000 of whom were U. S. citizens or residents," according to the lawsuit.

During the August 2018 interrogation, FBI agents allegedly said Chebli would be "useful as an informant because of his language skills, Lebanese background, and technical expertise as an engineer" to "help in identifying and tracking people in his community who intended to harm the United States," according to the lawsuit.

Chebli says his anxiety grew as the agents continued to pressure him to take on the role.

Since Chebli learned he was on the no-fly list in 2018, he has been diligently trying to clear his name through a "fair process" but he says the federal government has not complied.

"Mr. Chebli felt powerless to protect his family and worried about their ability to proceed through the screening process safely and without the stigma that comes from being singled out by government agents," according to the lawsuit.

"Mr. Chebli's Kafkaesque ordeal is emblematic of the government's abusive use of the no-fly list, especially against Muslims, and the multiple constitutional violations that result," Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU's National Security Project, said in a statement.

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