Florida Civil Rights Groups Announce "Know Your Rights" Hotline for Targets of Dragnet Investigation

Affiliate: ACLU of Florida
December 8, 2001 12:00 am

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Florida Civil Rights Groups Announce “Know Your Rights” Hotline for Targets of Dragnet Investigation


MIAMI–Citing growing concerns over law enforcement’s persistent targeting and ongoing detention of Middle Eastern men, the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida today announced the creation of a “Know Your Rights” telephone hotline.

“”We hope anyone who has information about the horrific events of September 11th would cooperate fully with authorities, said Howard Simon, Executive Director of the ACLU of Florida. “”Our concern, however, is that this dragnet investigation involves questioning by police of individuals whom federal officials acknowledge are not suspected of any wrongdoing.””

The hotline, which will begin operating tomorrow, is a project of the ACLU and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). It was established primarily for Middle Eastern men in Florida who have been targeted for questioning by the FBI, in order to inform the men about their constitutional rights, the questions that the FBI will ask, the option to decline an interview and the option to bring an attorney to an interview.

Callers will be informed about the possibility of being detained or deported if, for example, the FBI determines that the individual has lied in the interview or has overstayed his visa. None of the advice given on the hotline will encourage non-cooperation with proper law enforcement investigations. Callers will be advised to be careful but truthful in their answers.

“”We are urging anyone contacted by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement or other law enforcement agencies to seek legal help before consenting to any interviews so that they do not become innocent victims caught up in a massive government investigation,”” added Simon.

The statewide hotline number is 1-888-597-4909, extension 17. Individuals calling the hotline can receive assistance 24-hours a day.

The national ACLU has created “Know Your Rights” pamphlets for targets of the investigation nationwide; they are available in pdf format on the ACLU’s website. A news release about this effort is online at /node/9192

Click here for the “Know Your Rights” pamphlets:

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