Court Rules Government Must Demonstrate Scholar Knowingly Supported Terrorism

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July 20, 2009

On July 17, 2009, a federal appeals court overturned a ruling that allowed the U.S. government to deny a Swiss Muslim scholar entry into the country for contributing to a charity that was later determined to have connections to terrorism.  The ruling remands Tariq Ramadan's case back to a lower court where the government will have to demonstrate that he knowingly donated to a group sponsoring violence.

The government claimed that from 1998 to 2002, Ramadan gave nearly $1,300 to a Swiss based charity, Association de Secours Palestinien, which the Treasury Department later classified as a terrorist organization for financially supporting Hamas. Subsequently, he had his visa revoked in 2004 and was denied one in 2006.  

The three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit unanimously ruled that the government was required to “confront Ramadan with the allegation against him and afford him the subsequent opportunity to demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence that he did not know, and reasonably should not have known, that the recipient of his contributions was a terrorist organization.” The panel sent the case back to the lower court for a determination on whether Ramadan had been confronted with the allegation, and given an opportunity to deny it.

The ACLU attorney who argued the appeal, Jameel Jaffer, said, he was pleased with the decision, and its finding “that in this case the government simply has not offered a constitutionally adequate justification for its actions.”