Muslim advocacy groups sue FBI over surveillance
Muslim advocacy groups have sued the FBI and the Department of Justice for failing to turn over records they requested on surveillance in the Muslim-American community.world Updated: Sep 19, 2007 18:59 IST
Muslim advocacy groups have sued the FBI and the Department of Justice for failing to turn over records they requested on surveillance in the Muslim-American community.
The complaint filed on Tuesday in US District Court in Santa Ana alleges the FBI only turned over four pages in a response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request the community leaders made more than a year ago. The documents were not related to surveillance.
The FOIA request sought records that described the FBI's guidelines and policies for surveillance and investigation of Muslim religious organisations.
It also sought specific information about FBI inquiries targeting 11 different groups or individuals.
The lawsuit states that all the plaintiffs -- who include some of the most prominent Muslim leaders in California -- have reason to believe they have been investigated by the FBI in recent years.
The FOIA, a federal law which can provide individuals with access to information about the operation of federal agencies, requested documents dating back to January 2001.
One of the plaintiffs, Shakeel Syed, said his organisation and others have spent three years building a relationship with the FBI but the agency's resistance to the request was troubling.
"I think it is in the best interests of the government to come clean and be transparent and forthright," said Syed, the executive director of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California.