Muslim Advocates Files Legal Action Challenging Federal No-Fly List

Pakistani Doctor and Regular U.S. Traveler Twice Denied Entry on U.S.-Bound Flights 

Washington, DC – Today, Muslim Advocates, Holwell Shuster & Goldberg LLP, and Ellahie & Farooqui LLP filed a civil action in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia on behalf of Dr. Khushnood Ali Baz, a prominent doctor from Pakistan with extensive ties to the United States, who was twice denied the ability to board a flight coming to the United States.  Without any warning or justification, Dr. Baz was suddenly added to the federal government’s No-Fly List and prevented from traveling to the United States. Click here to read the complaint in full.

Over the course of the last 40 years, Dr. Baz has traveled regularly to the United States. He attended the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) conference – the world’s largest meeting of orthopedic surgeons, researchers, and related health professionals – almost every year. Dr. Baz also owns a house in Ohio, and his son is a U.S. citizen. But since 2016, airline personnel, on two separate occasions, have prevented Dr. Baz from boarding flights with final destinations in the United States. Both times, he was attempting to travel to attend the AAOS conference. On at least one occasion, an airline official informed Dr. Baz that he is on the No-Fly List.

As detailed in the complaint, the No-Fly list is a subset of the federal government’s Watch List. The Watch List is the government’s master repository of known or suspected terrorists. Both the Watch List and the No-Fly List have repeatedly been shown to be wildly overinclusive, rife with errors, and subject to multiple legal challenges. Individuals placed on these lists have no meaningful ability to challenge their inclusion, even though the consequences to them are drastic.

Below are statements from the co-counsel in this case:

Sirine Shebaya, senior staff attorney at Muslim Advocates

“Dr. Baz’s case illustrates the extreme disruption to people’s lives that arbitrary government actions cause. A prominent doctor who has established a network of hospitals in Pakistan, whose son is a U.S. citizen, and who regularly comes to the United States to  connect with his colleagues is now suddenly barred from coming to this country. He has been subjected to humiliating and stigmatizing treatment without any explanation or justification, leaving him with no recourse but to file this lawsuit. The government should rectify this error by establishing meaningful procedures through which he can challenge this baseless designation.”

Andrei Vrabie, associate at Holwell Shuster & Goldberg LLP

“As the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals observed in a similar No-Fly List case, a mistaken No-Fly List designation should not take several years and a lawsuit in federal court to correct.  We are hopeful that the government will examine Dr. Baz’s case in good faith, correct this erroneous designation, and implement an adequate redress procedure for individuals with significant voluntary connections to the United States, such as Dr. Baz.”

Javed Ellahie, Partner at Ellahie & Farooqui LLP

“We require that individuals enter the US legally and yet we arbitrarily, and without explanation, deny them entry midway through the journey.  Dr. Baz had a valid U.S. Visa, granted after an extensive and intrusive review of the application.  For the U.S. to be respected in the world it must respect its own processes and not subject those it has granted permission to enter the United States to humiliation in transit.”

Click here to read the complaint in full.

About Muslim Advocates: Muslim Advocates is a national legal advocacy and educational organization that works on the frontlines of civil rights to guarantee freedom and justice for Americans of all faiths.

About Holwell Shuster & Goldberg LLP: Founded by Southern District of New York Judge Richard Holwell and trial lawyers Michael Shuster, Daniel Goldberg, and Dorit Ungar Black, Holwell Shuster & Goldberg is a litigation boutique focused on the representation of clients in high-stakes commercial litigation, antitrust, intellectual property, international arbitration, and appellate matters, as well as related civil, criminal, and regulatory matters.

About Ellahie & Farooqui LLP: The attorneys at Ellahie & Farooqui LLP have provided exceptional legal services to individuals and businesses for over 30 years. We are proud of our uncompromising approach to high quality legal work and customer service – at costs that are both reasonable and competitive.