Fazaga v. FBI
Case Number : SACV1100301
Court : United States District Court for the Central District of California
Judge : Hon. Cormac J. Carney
Co-Counsel : Council on American-Islamic Relations, California; Hadsell Stormer Keeny Richardson & Renick, LLP
In June 2006, FBI agents sent an informant to one of the largest, most diverse mosques in Orange County, California, who posed as a convert to Islam. After publicly converting before a crowd of hundreds, the informant spent the next fourteen months acting on the instructions of his FBI handlers — gathering names, telephone numbers, e-mails, backgrounds, political and religious views, travel plans, and other information on hundreds of individuals in the community. The FBI directed the informant, Craig Monteilh, not to target any particular individuals they believed were involved in criminal activity, but to gather as much information as possible on members of the Muslim community, and to focus on people who were more devout in their religious practice. No terrorism charges were brought, and no criminal convictions obtained, as a result of the FBI’s operation.
In February 2011, the ACLU of Southern California, the Council for American-Islamic Relations of Greater Los Angeles, and the law firm Hadsell Stormer Keeny Richardson & Renick LLP filed a federal class action law suit against the Federal Bureau of Investigations for infiltrating mainstream mosques in Southern California and targeting Muslims Americans for surveillance because of their religion. Among other claims, the lawsuit alleges that the FBI’s operation unlawfully targeted individuals on the basis of their religious beliefs and practices, in violation of the First Amendment; unlawfully collected information on religious practices in violation of the Privacy Act; and constituted unreasonable searches in violation of the Fourth Amendment. The suit demands that the FBI destroy all information unlawfully collected through their operation and pay damages to the individuals who were targets of unlawful surveillance.
The Court dismissed the lawsuit against the FBI but permitted the suit to go forward against the individual government agents under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Read more about the ruling.