SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A federal judge in San Francisco has ordered the name of a Malaysian architecture professor removed from the U.S. government's no-fly list.
U.S. District Judge William Alsup said Tuesday in a brief, two-page court filing that Rahinah Ibrahim's inclusion on the list was a mistake.
Alsup ordered her name stricken from the list — if, in fact, it is still on it. The judge kept his detailed ruling under seal until April 15 so the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals can rule on the government's appeal to toss out the lawsuit.
The U.S. Department of Justice has refused to disclose Ibrahim's current flight status throughout her eight-year legal fight, including during a two-week bench trial late last year. Several similar lawsuits are pending across the nation, but Ibrahim's legal challenge appears to be the first to go to trial.
The two-page filing the judge released publicly was only a notice that the former Stanford University doctoral candidate had prevailed in a fight to clear her name that began with her arrest at San Francisco International Airport in 2005 and authorities telling her she was on the no-fly list.
Ibrahim said she was mistakenly placed on the list because of her national origin and Muslim faith. Ibrahim testified via videotape during the trial that the FBI visited her Stanford apartment the month before her arrest and asked whether she had connections to the Malaysian terror group, Jemaah Islamiyah. She denied any connections to the group specifically or terrorism generally.
The government argues that national security interests could be jeopardized if it's forced to disclose — while defending the lawsuit in open court — how Ibrahim was initially placed on the list and whether she remains on it. Government attorneys didn't disclose many details during the two-week trial and objected repeatedly when Ibrahim's attorneys asked detailed questions of witnesses.