(WASHINGTON, DC - 7/9/14) –This morning, The Intercept revealed that five high-profile American Muslims were subject to years-long secret surveillance by the FBI and NSA between the years 2002-2009. Documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden exposed that those targeted include: Faisal Gill, former Department of Homeland Security top advisor in the Bush Administration; Asim Ghafoor, well known defense attorney; Hooshang Amirahmadi, Iranian-American professor at Rutgers University; Agha Saeed, former political science professor at California State University; and Nihad Awad, Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
“We stand with the five American Muslims targeted by the NSA and FBI and the thousands of others who have been impacted by mass surveillance of our community,” said Salam Al-Marayati, MPAC President. These revelations are a betrayal of public trust by the NSA and FBI. The treatment of the American Muslim community as suspects will only further increase the distrust our community has towards the government and create more isolation.”
MPAC signed onto a coalition letter addressed to President Obama asking the administration to investigate the matter and ensure that these abuses no longer continue. The letter states in part:
“We call on your Administration to provide a full public accounting of these practices and to strengthen protections against the infringement of civil liberties and human rights. We also request a meeting with you, Attorney General Eric Holder and FBI director James Comey to discuss these matters.”
The five American Muslims placed under surveillance appeared on a spreadsheet titled “FISA recap” leaked to Glen Greenwald last year by Edward Snowden, which identifies 7,485 email addresses that were monitored for surveillance between 2002 and 2008. All of the surveillance victims appear to have been targeted because of their Muslim backgrounds and their activities defending Muslims. All five strongly deny any involvement in terrorism or espionage, and none have been associated with any crime.
The sad reality exists that these abuses have not taken place in a vacuum. For too long government agencies especially the law enforcement and intelligence communities have received biased and politically motivated training and information on the American Muslim community. We have seen too many cases where the government has engaged in discriminatory surveillance against the American Muslim community. These practices hurt American Muslims, as well as all communities that expect law enforcement to equally serve and protect them as American citizens.
Founded in 1988, MPAC is an American institution which informs and shapes public opinion and policy by serving as a trusted resource to decision makers in government, media and policy institutions. MPAC is also committed to developing leaders with the purpose of enhancing the political and civic participation of American Muslims.
[CONTACT: Edina Lekovic, 323-258-6722, email@example.com]