Irvine Man Wants Off 'No Fly List,' Sues FBI

Categories: Court, Main
It's easy to complain about air travel, especially when TSA agents feel you up like it's prom night and then the guy behind you plops his flaking feet on your arm rest. But typically, the end reward is getting where you want to go in a conceivable amount of time.

Not for Stephen Persaud. On May 11, 2010, according to court documents, he and his pregnant wife, along with their 16-month-old son, were about to move back from the Virgin Islands to Irvine, where they would welcome their new baby and reunite with relatives. But when the family went to the American Airlines kiosk to check in, the screen flashed "error."  

Five government officials appeared, and Persaud, a U.S. citizen who had been attending nursing school in St. Thomas, was taken into a room where he was questioned for two hours. "We know you were in Somalia," an FBI agent said. "We'd like to know where, why, and what parts you visited."

His wife and son were able to catch a new series of flights back to Irvine, but Persaud could not. He was eventually informed he was on the government's No Fly List, a fast-growing roster of about 21,000 people, 500 of them Americans, who are not allowed to fly because they're considered suspected terrorists. He had no idea how his name got there, and officials were not to tell him as it's classified information.

To finally get home, Persaud endured a traveling nightmare that makes getting stuck on the runway for eight hours sound like a staycation. First, he boarded a cruise ship in St. Thomas and traveled for five days to Miami. Then he rode a train for two days to Washington, D.C, and another train to Chicago and another one to Los Angeles. The delays had him back in Irvine a month after his wife. He's still unable to board a plane, indefinitely.  

Persaud is now one of 15 plaintiffs, all Muslim, in a renewed federal lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) against the federal government. They want to be removed from the No Fly List, produced by the FBI's Terrorist Screening Center since 9/11, or at least be granted a hearing where they can confront any evidence against them. As of now, people who complain that they're on the list unfairly can submit a letter to the Homeland Security Department, but they won't know the outcome of the complaint unless they buy a plane ticket and try to fly again. The union argues that depriving people of their right to travel without any notice or opportunity to object is unfair and unconstitutional.

The ACLU's filed a complaint in 2010, but it was dismissed by a federal judge in Portland who said it must be heard by an appeals court. A new complaint (PDF) was filed in February. On May 11, lawyers plan to argue before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that the lawsuit should be heard in federal court.

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irvine dj
irvine dj

We are closer to 1984 than ever before.

CHS
CHS

The article never confrims that he was in Somalia, only that he was accused of being there.

In any event, if true, why would anyone want to go to one of the true hellholes of the earth?

ANationOfTattooedWarCriminals
ANationOfTattooedWarCriminals

PS: if you ask for a LAWYER during a TSA interrogation, the ONLY thing you will achieve is TO GET YOUR ATTORNEY ARRESTED TOO!

You'll BOTH enjoy sharing tons of funny lawyer jokes during the 18 hour flight that will rendition you two love-birds to Syria for prolonged 'questioning'.

909Jeff
909Jeff

He was actually detained and questioned by the FBI... 

TheyHateUsForOurMcNuggets
TheyHateUsForOurMcNuggets

So how is it that a BLACK guy with the name of BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA gets to fly all around the freaking place with nary a hassle?

This is all TWILIGHT ZONE shit, I'm telling you.

909Jeff
909Jeff

Well... A couple things. 

If you are EVER detained... STFU and ask for a Lawyer. 

And why was he in Somalia?  We never did get the answer to that question. 

And Michelle,  A traveling nightmare?  That sounds more like a party to me! a five day cruise without the wife... sign me up! (just dont tell her i said that) 

The train part... What better way to see the beauty of the otherwise flyover states? 

ituri
ituri

Is that a joke?  A "party?"  Yeah, a completely unplanned journey of nearly a month, with no preparation, no finances set up, no tickets, no schedule, a JOB at home waiting on you to return (if you still have it when you eventually do), and a family wondering where and how you are, all when you should have simply flown home with them in the first place.

Thats not a party.  Traveling voluntarilly is a party, being FORCED into a month long journey through no choice due to an overly oppressive government beaurocracy you can't even approach in recompense is a JOKE.

That, and plenty of people travel all over the world, for work, family, business, and more.  Simply GOING somewhere is NEVER enough to suspect a citizen of wrongdoing.

Guest
Guest

Why was he in Somalia?

Kelly M. Bray
Kelly M. Bray

 It is not clear from the article if he was in Somalia. Just because the agents asked him that question does not mean they had accurate information.

diaboluslupus
diaboluslupus

 It seems to be that if someone is so dangerous they can not be allowed to fly, how it is safer to allow them to take a bus or train? Why was he allowed to return to the US if he is so dangerous?

Dave Lieberman
Dave Lieberman

Depending which Virgin Islands, he may never have left the U.S.

909Jeff
909Jeff

Agreed, 

A train can be used as a weapon as well. 

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