Friday, May 14, 2010

American Citizen Denied Re-Entry to U.S.

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 5/14/10) -- A prominent national Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization today called on the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to end the "forced exile" of a Muslim citizen who was recently detained by Mexican authorities and allegedly questioned about his faith, apparently at the behest of the FBI.

The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said Raymond Earl Knaeble IV, a 29-year-old California-born convert to Islam, has been stranded in Colombia since March after being placed on a no-fly list for unknown reasons. His ordeal, and that of other American Muslims denied re-entry to the U.S., was detailed last month by the Washington Post. (Knaeble was in Colombia to visit relatives.)
SEE: U.S. Muslims Facing Problems in Return from Abroad (Wash. Post)
Earlier this week, Knaeble traveled to Mexico, hoping to cross into the United States overland through that nation. He was stopped by Mexican authorities as he got off the plane and asked, "Are you Muslim?" He was then detained for 15 hours and asked many questions relating to his faith, such as how many wives he has (one) and the differences between "Sunni" and "Shia" Muslims. Knaeble said the questions he was asked were the same as those asked during many hours of FBI interrogation in Colombia.

"It is un-American and illegal for a citizen who has not been accused of, let alone charged with any crime to be denied entry to his own country without adequate explanation or the possibility of challenging punishments applied without due process of law," said CAIR Legal Counsel Nadhira Al-Khalili, who is Knaeble's attorney. "We call on the Department of Justice to end Mr. Knaeble's forced exile and to address the disturbing issue of the other Americans who are similarly being denied re-entry to their own country."
She noted that Knaeble was forced to fly from Mexico back to Colombia, when he could have just as easily been placed on a flight to the United States.

Al-Khalili said that if law enforcement authorities have any further questions about Knaeble or his activities, they should allow him to enter the United States and deal with him as they would any other citizen. The FBI has so far refused to discuss Knaeble's case with his legal representative.
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.