US Supreme Court deals blow to Muslims who say FBI spied on them

US Supreme Court deals blow to Muslims who say FBI spied on them
2 min read
The US Supreme Court blew a case by three Muslim men who accused the FBI of spying on them after 9/11 and ruled unanimously that the government had the right to invoke state secrets
The imam and two of the congregation then filed a complaint against the FBI for infringement of religious freedom [Getty]

The US Supreme Court dealt a blow Friday to three Muslim men who accused the FBI of having spied on them because of their religion after the attacks of September 11, 2001.

While it did not shut the case down completely, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the government had the right to invoke state secrets privilege to refuse to provide information to the court responsible for studying the men's complaint.

The judgment, limited in scope to a technical point, overrides a 2019 decision by an appeals court and returns the case to the lower court for it to continue its examination.

"This is a dangerous sign for religious freedom and government accountability," said the powerful American Civil Liberties Union, which represents the plaintiffs, on Twitter.

"This is not the end of the road....We will keep fighting," the ACLU added.

The case centers on three California residents who said the Federal Bureau of Invesitgation introduced, in 2006 and 2007, an informant in their mosque to gather information on the congregants.

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This man, who presented himself as a convert, allegedly collected telephone numbers, e-mail addresses and secretly recorded the conversations of many members of the community.

To test his interlocutors, he reportedly brought up the topic of bomb attacks or jihad, until the worried faithful denounced him to the police.

After that, the man argued with federal agents and decided to go public with his actions as a paid FBI informant.

The imam and two of the congregation then filed a complaint against the FBI for infringement of religious freedom and discrimination.

The Justice Department responded that it had launched the surveillance program for purely objective reasons, and not because the people were Muslims.

The department took refuge behind the state secrecy argument to refuse to detail those reasons, and asked the courts to close the case.