Supreme Court to hear case over FBI surveillance of Muslim community

Washington – The Supreme Court said Monday it would hear an FBI offer regarding post-9/11 surveillance of three Muslim men in California who allege the federal government secretly gathered information about them on the basis of their religion.

The FBI appealed to the Supreme Court after a ruling by the U.S. 9th Court of Appeals that complaints filed by the men in 2011 can be prosecuted. The case will be heard by the Supreme Court during its next term, which begins in October, and is the second concerning the so-called state secrets privilege that judges will decide.

The dispute arose out of the FBI’s use of a confidential informant from 2006 to 2007 to infiltrate the Muslim community in Orange County, Calif., And secretly collect information about its members, including names, phone numbers. phone and emails. The operation lasted for more than a year, but failed when informant Craig Monteilh made statements about inciting violence, which led members of the Islamic community to denounce him to the forces of the order, according to deposits with the Supreme Court.

Three of the men who met and watched by Monteilh – Sheikh Yassir Fazaga, Ali Uddin Malik and Yasser AbdelRahim – sued the federal government and the FBI in federal court in 2011, alleging illegal searches and unlawful discrimination on the basis of the religion. The office, they argued, secretly gathered information about them and other Muslims solely on the basis of their religion.

The FBI decided to dismiss the allegations of the three American Muslim men and invoked state secrets privilege, which allows the government to block the release of any information in a lawsuit that could harm national security if it was disclosed.

A California federal district court dismissed the complaints against the government in 2012, arguing that the case “involves information which, if disclosed, would significantly compromise national security.” But the 9th U.S. Court of Appeals overturned the lower court’s decision and said that a section of the Foreign Intelligence Watch Act (FISA), which regulates the collection of electronic surveillance by the government , replaces the privilege of state secrets.

The lower court, the 9th Circuit said, should have relied on FISA procedures to rule on the legality of the disputed electronic surveillance.

By urging the Supreme Court to hear the case, the Justice Department says the decision of the appeals court “transforms this protective shield of government into a private sword that inventive litigants may seek to use to argue the merits of any action related in one way or another to electronic surveillance.”

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