Appeals Court hears arguments; two Muslims want to know if NYPD spied on them after 9/11
Tuesday in Albany, The Court of Appeals heard arguments in the cases of two Muslims who wanted to know whether the NYPD was spying on them post 9-11.
Both say they are law-abiding citizens, have never been charged with anything, and want this to be over.
They say they don't understand why the NYPD can say whether they have records for some people, but withhold information to them.
This landmark appeal combines the cases of two Muslim men, who didn't know each other, who both thought they were being spied on after 9-11.
Both, told by the NYPD, using the Glomar doctrine, the department could "neither confirm nor deny" whether surveillance records existed.
Their lawyer, Omar T. Mohammedi, says others who asked were given answers.
"Obviously it was a result of the NYPD surveillance against the Muslim community, which we believe was illegal surveillance and they know that, and that's why they don't want to release the documents," said Mohammedi.
Both Manhattan imam Talib Abdur-Rashid and former Rutgers University student Samir Hashmi, who had been a treasurer of a Muslim student organization, originally sued separately.
"For the NYPD to use this against us, Glomar, they are basically saying there is one set of standards for Americans and one set of standards for Muslim Americans," said Hashmi.
Abdur-Rashid says he is well known and recently retired after 40 years of service in the prison and jails of New York state.
"What I believe is my liberty and the liberty of every citizen of New York is being compromised by the NYPD seeking to operate without accountability and transparency," said Abdur-Rashid.
This court appeal is basically over the Glomar Doctrine, and the implications of this case state wide over every agency.
Melanie Trimble, Chapter Director for the Capital Region Chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union says this case is extremely important to ensure trust of every police department across the state.
"If we don't have that transparency there is no way we can continue to have a congenial relationship with police departments across the state," said Trimble.
The Glomar Doctrine is named for a ship the CIA used in 1978 to retrieve a portion of a Soviet submarine.
When a journalist sought information, a federal court allowed the CIA to neither confirm nor deny whether records existed on the mission.
A lawyer for the NYPD also addressed the court; he wasn't available after proceedings.
The case is expected back for a second hearing in March.
Then a decision is expected mid March.