In this case, a Malaysian student named Rahinah Ibrahim was prevented from boarding a 2005 flight at San Francisco International Airport and was handcuffed and detained by police.
Eventually, Ibrahim was allowed to fly back to her home country of Malaysia. Yet she was prevented from returning to the U.S. after the State Department revoked her student visa, according an article published by The New York Times that provides the background of the case.
Ibrahim’s daughter, Raihan Mustafa Kamal, is a licensed attorney in Malaysia, was born in the U.S. and is a U.S. citizen. She was slated to observe and testify at the trial in San Francisco before she was blocked from boarding a flight in Kuala Lumpur.
In his latest report, Edward Hasbrouck of the Identity Project (part of the First Amendment Project), revealed that Judge William Alsup has prevented Ibrahim and her lawyers from seeing the classified evidence being used against her.
This move seems especially surprising since, as Mike Masnick of Tech Dirtnotes, “Alsup himself has repeatedly questioned why certain information in the case was secret in the first place.”
Masnick reports that this ultimately appears to boil down to a process issue. That is, Ibrahim and her lawyers could have sought clearance to view the classified evidence, but they didn’t go through the process.
Since they did not begin the process, the judge said that it is now a bit late to suddenly demand the evidence.
“Plaintiff’s counsel could have sought clearance to view classified information well in advance of trial,” Alsup wrote. “Plaintiff’s counsel did not. Instead, plaintiff’s counsel waited until after trial to request an order for access to classified information.”
“This order will not permit plaintiff’s counsel to circumvent the usual classified clearance process at this late date when such unreasonable conditions are requested,” Alsup wrote.
Before the trial, Ibrahim was reportedly told that she could see the evidence if she was present in the courtroom. Of course, she couldn’t be in the courtroom since the State Department denied her the visa required to fly into the U.S.
“The action will proceed without the benefit of classified information provided to plaintiff’s counsel,” Alsup ruled.
That means that while Ibrahim and her lawyers won’t be able to see the classified evidence, it leaves open the possibility that Alsup will consider them in his final decision, according to Hasbrouck.
However, Hasbrouck notes that Alsup could also “again refuse to do so,” leaving the consideration of the documents entirely out of the case.
UPDATE: The judge ruled Tuesday, Jan. 14 that Ibrahim’s placement on the no-fly list was a bureaucratic mistake and had her removed from the list.
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