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CAIR, CAIR-Oregon Welcome Federal Appeals Court Decision to Allow No-Fly List Claims to Proceed

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 9/20/18) — The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today welcomed the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Portland reinstating Yonas Fikre’s claims challenging the constitutionality of the government’s no-fly list. 

In reversing a lower court’s decision to dismiss Fikre’s claims, the Ninth Circuit found that, though the federal government has removed Fikre from the list, the federal government had “not repudiated the decision to add Fikre to the list and maintain him there for approximately five years.”

[CAIR co-counseled this case with Oregon attorneys Brandon Mayfield and Thomas Nelson]

SEE: Muslim American Can Sue Over No Fly List Status:

Fikre’s case was dismissed by a federal district court in large part because, after his lawsuit began, the federal government removed him from the no-fly list. But because the list’s standards and procedures remain the same, the Ninth Circuit found that Fikre’s challenge to the no-fly list could continue.  

“[T]he government has not assured Fikre that he will not be banned from flying for the same reasons that prompted the government to add him to the list in the first place.”


The Ninth Circuit emphasized that, were a federal court to ultimately agree with Fikre’s constitutional challenge, the stigma of being on the no-fly list could be lifted: “Because acquaintances, business associates, and perhaps even family members are likely to persist in shunning or avoiding him despite his renewed ability to travel, it is plain that vindication in this action would have actual and palpable consequences for Fikre.”

Fikre’s lawsuit began in 2013 and challenged, not only his placement on the No Fly List, but also his torture in the United Arab Emirates at the behest of the FBI.  

SEE: American Muslim Sues FBI, Saying He was Tortured at Their Behest Former Portland Businessman Accuses Feds of Complicity in 2011 Torture

In 2012, CAIR called on the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Civil Rights Division to investigate Fikre’s claims that he was beaten on the soles of his feet, kicked and punched, and held in stress positions while interrogators shouted questions similar to those posed to him by FBI agents and other American officials.

Video: CAIR Interview with Yonas Fikre

“This decision will give Yonas Fikre his day in court to challenge the government’s ability to place innocent Americans–people who have not been charged, arrested, or convicted of a terrorism-related offense–on its no-fly list,” said CAIR National Litigation Director Lena Masri. 

“The 9th circuit authored a well-supported opinion upholding due process making it clear that saying “I won’t do it again, trust me” just isn’t enough when one’s very liberty and reputation is at stake.

The governments no fly list lacks due process, procedural safeguards, and is draconian and un-American. It is a government tool for targeting, profiling, and marginalizing immigrants, at risk minorities, and Muslims. Hurdles in the way of safeguards need to be implemented and Mr. Fikres injuries need to now be acknowledged and addressed.” said co-counsel Brandon Mayfield, who argued the case before the Ninth Circuit.

“We applaud the 9th Circuit’s decision this morning, Muslims deserve the ability to challenge the government’s targeted and unconstitutional actions. We stand with Yonus Fikre who has had to endure both harassment and torture after being courageous in the face of the FBI’s misbehavior. Presently, the FBI is back to similar tactics to recruit Muslim informants in Oregon, wherever their unconstitutional behavior takes them we will challenge them,” said CAIR-Oregon Spokesperson Zakir Khan.

CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.

La misión de CAIR es proteger las libertades civiles, mejorar la comprensión del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanes en los Estados Unidos.


CONTACT: CAIR National Litigation Director Lena Masri, 248-390-9784,; CAIR Senior Litigation Attorney Gadeir Abbas, 720-251-0425,; CAIR-Oregon Spokesperson Zakir Khan, 626-502-8450,


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