Libyan-Americans Detained, Interrogated, and Denied Entry into US


January 27, 2012

CONTACT: Yasmeen Ar-Rayani, (646) 812-7715;

NEW YORK – The Libyan League for Human Rights (LLHR) will be launching an investigation into all interactions between Libyans and US law enforcement agencies and related bodies (including the FBI, CIA, local law enforcement, TSA, and CBP, as well as the Department of Homeland Security and State Department) since the beginning of the Libyan Revolution in February 2011.

It has come to LLHR’s attention that a number of American citizens of Libyan descent who traveled to Libya during the revolution have been detained and interrogated by the FBI, TSA, and CBP in recent months. These encounters have taken place throughout the United States (at the homes and workplaces of targets), as well as in Tunisia and at various US-Canada land border crossings. The individuals in question were asked about their activities in Libya as well as their political and religious leanings. In at least two cases, American citizens of Libyan origin who traveled to Libya are currently being denied entry back into the US. One of these individuals traveled to Libya to deliver medical aid and has faced questioning by the FBI in Tunisia. The other individual, who had traveled to Libya to visit family, has been denied entry into the US by the FBI and has also been approached by the FBI for an interview in Tunisia.

These actions directly undermine Articles 9 through 12 of the Universal Declaration for Human Rights (UDHR), which protect all human beings from arbitrary arrest, detention, and exile, and arbitrary interference with privacy. They violate the rights of these individuals to freedom of movement and to return to their country of citizenship, as affirmed in Article 13 of the UDHR. The fact that these actions come in the wake of President Obama’s signature of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is further cause for concern. Under the NDAA, the US may detain and imprison any individual (both in the US and abroad), including American citizens, without charge or trial.

LLHR is calling upon any Libyan (regardless of citizenship) who has had any interaction with the American departments and agencies listed above to participate in this investigation. LLHR calls upon the FBI and related bodies to disclose any and all information concerning the detention, surveillance, and interrogation of Libyans in the US and abroad and to respect the rights of their citizens and all other individuals with whom they interact. LLHR strongly advises potential targets to familiarize themselves with their rights under US and international law and to seek legal counsel before speaking with any law enforcement official who approaches them.