PA: Muslim Pilot Allowed to Resume Flying


A commercial airline pilot whose job was threatened because his name was apparently on a secret terrorist watch list is being allowed to resume flying, according to a letter his lawyers released Tuesday.

The two-sentence letter from Colgan Air Inc. to the federal Transportation Security Administration confirmed that the Manassas, Va.-based regional carrier was allowing Erich Scherfen to return to work. It did not mention any watch list or the reason that the company suspended Scherfen in April.

Scherfen, a New Jersey native who converted to Islam in 1994, and his wife, a native of Pakistan who became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1980, sued the federal government last month. They claim their names were placed on the list because of their Muslim faith, in violation of their constitutional rights.

Scherfen's lawyers filed papers Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Scranton to withdraw a related request for a court order to stop Scherfen's scheduled Oct. 1 termination. Judge Thomas I. Vanaskie has scheduled a Sept. 18 hearing on that request.

"The immediate harm to Erich is over," said Witold J. Walczak, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania. "He's back at work."

Scherfen, 37, a Gulf War veteran, had worked for Colgan for about a year when he was suspended. Both he and his wife, who sells Islamic books and other media from their home in Schuylkill County, have said they have no criminal records or ties to terrorists. (MORE)


 


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