U.S. Supreme Court

Can businessman continue suit over placement on no-fly list? Supreme Court to decide

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Young black man flanked by two older white lawyers at a desk

Yonas Fikre, center, has been fighting over his placement on the no-fly list since 2010. In this 2012 file photo, he is flanked by his attorneys in Stockholm, Sweden. (AP Photo / Claudio Bresciani)

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear a bid by an Oregon man to keep alive his suit over temporary placement on the government’s no-fly list case.

The court agreed to decide whether the case of Portland resident Yonas Fikre is moot, report SCOTUSblog and Bloomberg Law. The U.S. government had placed Fikre on the list in 2010 but removed his name in 2016 after he filed a federal lawsuit.

The government said Fikre would not be placed on the list in the future “based on the currently available information.”

The case concerns the “voluntary cessation doctrine,” SCOTUSblog explains. It holds that a case cannot be tossed as moot when a defendant can resume the disputed conduct.

Fikre alleges the government told him he was on the no-fly list when he was in Sudan on business. He was questioned about his ties to a Portland-area mosque and told he could not return to the United States unless he became an informant, according to the cert petition. He says he refused.

Fikre moved to the United Arab Emirates in 2010. In 2011, he alleges, he was abducted by the UAE secret police, who interrogated and tortured him while he was held for more than three months. He contends one of his interrogators told him the FBI had requested the interrogation. He left the country in 2011 and flew to Sweden, which denied him asylum in 2015 and flew him back to Portland by private jet.

The U.S. had charged Fikre with conspiracy and structuring in 2012 for an alleged plot to conceal the transfer of thousands of dollars to the United Arab Emirates, the Oregonian reports. The charges were dropped in 2013. Fikre’s lawyer told the Oregonian that Fikre had been discussing how to start a business in the United Arab Emirates, not anything like “importing missiles.”

The San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had ruled for Fikre on his bid to continue the no-fly-list lawsuit. Two other federal appeals courts have ruled differently, holding such no-fly cases are moot, according to the cert petition. They are the 4th and 6th U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals, respectively based in Richmond, Virginia and Cincinnati.

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