May 21st, 2010 13:50 EST
FBI Visits Prompt Reminder of Legal Rights
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said today that its offices nationwide are receiving an increasing number of reports of FBI agents, along with other law enforcement officers, visiting and interviewing American Muslims, particularly members of the Pakistani-American community.
These visits often include both FBI agents and Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) officers, including Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials and local police or sheriff`s department officers. Reports to CAIR`s Los Angeles office indicate the FBI described these visits as "community outreach" visits.
In light of these reports, CAIR is taking the opportunity to remind American Muslims of their rights when visited by FBI/JTTF agents in their homes or in the workplace.
American Muslims strongly support law enforcement and the protection of our national security. As Americans, we also value the civil rights of every individual. All Americans have the constitutional right to due process and to be politically active.
If you know of any criminal activity taking place in your community, it is both your religious and civic duty to immediately report such activity to local and federal law enforcement agencies.
Know Your Rights:
- Understand that providing information to the FBI or any law enforcement officer, absent a subpoena, is strictly voluntary. You are not obligated under law to answer any questions from law enforcement officers other than providing them with an official identification card.
- You may choose to have an attorney accompany or represent you for any interview or questioning. We strongly recommend you consult with an attorney regarding the risks and benefits of being interviewed by law enforcement agents in your specific case. CAIR may provide legal assistance, or can refer you to an attorney.
- If FBI/JTTF agents show up at your home or workplace and do not have a search or arrest warrant, you have no obligation to let them in.
- If they do have an arrest or search warrant, you can still exercise your right to remain silent. Comply with all directives and do not physically resist an officer. Be polite and respectful at all times. Remember that you retain the right to remain silent and do not have to comment or respond to any inquiries. You also have the right to an attorney.
- If an agent or officer says they have some questions for you, you have the right to not speak to them and/or you may tell the agents or officers that you will have your attorney contact them if they wish to speak to you. Again, CAIR may provide legal assistance, or can refer you to an attorney.
- Note that anything you say to an agent or officer can be used against you in a court of law, and lying to an agent or officer is a criminal offense.
- Should you decide to speak to agents alone despite the risks, note that you may set the conditions of the interview, including choosing when and where the interview is to take place, having a third party present such as a family member or community leader, deciding which questions to answer, and refusing to sign any documents. You may cancel the interview at any time.
- Be sure to get the names, agencies, badge numbers and business cards of ALL agents or officers.
- Contact your attorney and/or CAIR to report the interview/incident and to discuss next steps. If you feel that your civil rights were violated, you may also file a complaint with the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division. CAIR can help you with this process.
- To file a civil rights complaint with CAIR, please visit: http://www.cair.com/FileaComplaint.aspx
1. "FBI Interview: Knowing the Law Can Protect You," by Ahilan Arulanantham and Ranjana Natarajan. InFocus News, February 2007.
2. Video: "Got Rights: Protect yourself and your family at home and at the airport, " by Muslim Advocates.
3. To file a complaint with the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, go to: DOJ Civil Rights Page.
[Please note: This above is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Should you have any questions about the material herein or about a specific case, please consult with your attorney.]
CAIR is America`s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
CONTACT: CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787 or 202-744-7726, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR Communications Coordinator Amina Rubin, 202-488-8787, 202-341-4171, E-Mail: email@example.com