(Adds Justice Department comment)
By Dan Levine
SAN FRANCISCO Jan 14 A U.S. judge on Tuesday
sided with a woman challenging the federal government's no-fly
policy and ruled that existing procedures to correct mistakes on
that list do not provide adequate due process protections.
U.S. District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco ruled on
a lawsuit brought by Rahinah Ibrahim, a Malaysian citizen. The
U.S. no-fly policy excludes individuals from commercial air
travel if they are suspected of having ties to terrorism, but
critics say it is practically impossible to be removed from the
list once on it.
U.S. Department of Justice spokesman Wyn Hornbuckle said the
government is reviewing the ruling and declined to comment
An attorney for Ibrahim, Elizabeth Pipkin, said: "Justice
has finally been done for our client, an innocent woman who was
ensnared in the government's flawed watch listing system."
The no-fly list is the subject of multiple legal challenges.
Ibrahim's case is believed to have been the first to go to
trial. The trial took place last month.
Ibrahim attended Stanford University on a student visa,
according to court filings. In early 2005, she was detained for
two hours at San Francisco's airport because authorities
believed she was on the no-fly list.
Eventually, she was allowed to travel to Malaysia. However,
her U.S. visa was revoked under a legal provision relating to
suspected terrorist activities, though she was not told the
specific factual basis for that action. She has not been allowed
to return to the United States.
Ibrahim petitioned U.S. authorities to clear her name but
received a letter that did not say whether she was still on the
no-fly list. She filed a lawsuit, claiming that her inability to
return to the United States damaged her professionally.
Ibrahim is currently the dean of architecture at University
In Tuesday's ruling, Alsup said the government has conceded
that Ibrahim is not a national security threat. She is entitled
to be informed whether she is still on the no-fly list, Alsup
wrote, and for any mistaken information about her to be
"The government's administrative remedies fall short of such
relief and do not supply sufficient due process," Alsup wrote.
The judge also ordered authorities to disclose more
information to Ibrahim relating to the denial of her visa
Ibrahim's case proceeded amid continuous litigation over
what information about the no-fly list could be made public, and
the judge reviewed several pieces of evidence in private at the
On Tuesday Alsup provided the outlines of his decision in a
three page public explanation, though a more detailed order is
still under seal. The judge said he believed all of that order
should be made public but delayed its release so both sides
could propose redactions.
The case in U.S. District Court, Northern District of
California is Rahinah Ibrahim vs. Department of Homeland
Security et al., 06-545.
(Additional reporting by David Ingram in Washington; Editing by
Chris Reese, Jonathan Oatis and Cynthia Osterman)