Judge Declines To Remove Air Force Veteran From No-Fly List

December 22, 2015 by  

Judge Declines To Remove Air Force Veteran From No-Fly List
, A federal judge on Monday rejected an effort by a U.S. Air Force veteran being held in Turkey to have his name immediately removed from the no-fly list but ruled that the Oklahoma-born Muslim American could sue on a normal schedule to try to produce the same result.

The ruling from U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady makes the future decidedly unclear for Saadiq Long, 46, who was born in the U.S. but considers Qatar his home. It is possible Turkey could deport him to the U.S., but after that, he could face more barriers to travel. Long has alleged that his name is on the U.S. no-fly list, and while U.S. authorities will permit him to return to the country of his birth, he is not sure that he would be allowed to leave on a plane.

In responding to Long’s lawsuit, Justice Department lawyers did not address explicitly whether Long is on the no-fly list but said he was welcome to challenge his status from wherever he might be.

Long’s suit, which alleges the no-fly list is broadly unconstitutional, comes just as U.S. politicians are debating whether to expand the list to prospective gun buyers. It demonstrates the thorny issues that surround the secretive process that supporters say prevents possible terrorists from boarding airplanes.

While O’Grady rejected Long’s petition for an emergency restraining order, he said there was a “serious question” about whether the no-fly list, at its core, violates Americans’ constitutional right to due process.

Gadeir Abbas, Long’s attorney, said afterward that the ruling was “disappointing” but he was heartened by the judge’s comment. He said Turkish authorities had prevented him from talking to Long, and it was unclear what would happen next.

“There’s no question that the judge is right that there’s a profound constitutional question that has arisen from the government’s use of the no-fly list,” Abbas said.

By Long’s account, he and his family were detained by Turkish authorities earlier this year because the U.S. had listed him on the no-fly list and his passport was flagged. His suit alleged that left him essentially stranded in Turkey.

While Long’s suit conceded the U.S. would issue a “one-time waiver” for him to return to his native country, it noted that might essentially trap him there. The suit alleged Long encountered a similar scenario several years ago when he – after some fighting – he was allowed to fly to the U.S. to see his sick mother but had to take a bus to Mexico before he could fly out.

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