Court Blocks Government From Designating Charity As "Terrorist"
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TOLEDO, OH – A federal judge today blocked the government from blacklisting an Ohio-based charity, KindHearts for Charitable Humanitarian Development, Inc., without further judicial review. In response to a request filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Ohio and several civil rights lawyers on behalf of KindHearts, Judge James G. Carr of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio Western Division blocked the government from designating the organization as a specially designated global terrorist "without first affording KindHearts with constitutionally adequate process," including notice and a meaningful opportunity to contest the basis for such a designation.
The U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) froze the group's assets more than 31 months ago, without notice or a hearing, based simply on the assertion that KindHearts was "under investigation." OFAC then threatened to designate KindHearts as a "specially designated global terrorist" based on classified evidence, again without providing KindHearts with a reason or meaningful opportunity to defend itself.
The following can be attributed to Hina Shamsi, staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project:
"We are gratified that the judge recognized the importance of independent judicial review of the government's actions towards KindHearts. His decision also serves the public's interest in ensuring that government action, including in the name of national security, is subject to the constitutional requirements of due process."
KindHearts' founders established the charity in 2002 – after the government shut down a number of Muslim charities – with the express purpose of providing humanitarian aid abroad and at home in the United States in full compliance with the law. Despite the efforts KindHearts took to implement OFAC guidance and policies and otherwise exercise diligence, OFAC froze its assets in February 2006.
The attorneys filing the case on behalf of KindHearts are Shamsi and National Security Fellow Alexander Abdo of the ACLU; Fritz Byers of Toledo, Ohio; David Cole of the Georgetown University Law Center; Lynne Bernabei and Alan Kabat of Bernabei & Wachtel, PLLC in Washington; and Jeffrey Gamso and Carrie Davis of the ACLU of Ohio.
More information about the case, including legal documents filed by the ACLU this morning, can be found online at: www.aclu.org/safefree/discrim/37097prs20081009.html