Tuesday, October 26, 2010

FBI Secretly Track Egyptian Student's Car for Over 3 Months

The Huffington Post
Student's Car Secretly Tracked For More Than 3 Months


Two days after Mission College student Yasir Afifi found a surveillance-tracking device on his car, the twenty year old Arab-American student was confronted by six FBI agents and police officers -- who asked for the pricey gadget back.

Wired.com reports that upon taking his car to a garage Afifi discovered the GPS tracker, which was attached to the car's chassis with a magnet. Later on, Afifi's friend Khaled posted photos of the device on reddit, where a reader identified it as an Orion Guardian ST820, which is made by a company that deals exclusively with law enforcement.

Although Afifi has never been affiliated with any type of questionable organization and is a U.S.-born citizen, he says he is on a federal watch list and is often taken aside at airports. His late father, Aladdin, was a prominent Muslim leader in Egypt, and Afifi annually visits his family there and embarks on frequent business trips to the Middle East.

The incident comes on the heels of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' recent reaffirmation of the government's right to secure GPS devices to vehicles without a warrant. FBI Special Agent Joseph Schadler told ABC News that "court decisions have consistently upheld that there is no warrant necessary for GPS tracking of a vehicle when the vehicle is in a public space."

ABC reports that Afifi's attorney, Zahra Billoo, has filed a Freedom of Information Act request so that she and Afifi can access any information the FBI has on him (even though the agents who spoke with Afifi told him he was "boring.")

In a statement to ABC, Billoo said:

He fits the profile, as a young Arab American male who travels frequently...Is it that you can just put [a tracking device] on any person's car and I would argue that is obviously an egregious violation of everybody's constitutional rights and should be challenged.

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