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New York City asks court to dismiss NYPD Muslim surveillance suit

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly [official websites] filed an answer [text, PDF] on Tuesday admitting that the New York Police Department (NYPD) [official website] spied in mosques and on a Muslim preacher but requesting that the court dismiss the complaint. The lawsuit was filed [JURIST report] in June by plaintiffs represented by the New York Civil Liberties Union, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and CUNY School of Law's Creating Law Enforcement Accountability & Responsibility (Clear) [advocacy websites] project of Main Street Legal Services, Inc., who argue that the NYPD has been unlawfully sending spies into mosques and student associations in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments [text] of the US Constitution. Although indicating that the NYPD conducted investigations of Preacher Mohammad Elshinawy and college student Asad Dandia, as well as of individuals associated with the the Al-Ansar Mosque and the Masjid At-Taqwa mosque, the city's response denied "any implication that the NYPD conducts unlawful surveillance of any institution or individual."

Last week Bloomberg filed suit [JURIST report] against the New York City Council in an effort to overturn recently-enacted legislation relating to the NYPD stop-and-frisk program [text]. Last month the stop-and-frisk program was found to be in violation [JURIST report] of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments by a judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of New York. Last year Muslim rights group filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] alleging that the NYPD had engaged in surveillance of Muslim schools, including kindergarten and elementary schools, as well as entire communities. Senior Volunteer Attorney for the Muslim Civil Liberties Union Samar Warsi argued [JURIST comment] that the NYPD surveillance of Muslims can have serious implication for civil liberties in the US.

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