A 20-year-old college student is suing Attorney General Eric Holder and FBI Director Robert Mueller, after the FBI secretly placed a GPS tracking device under his car without a warrant. The student, Yasir Afifi of San Jose, says the FBI had no reason to consider him a suspect of any type of illegal behavior.
The lawsuit says this was a violation of his civil rights. Afifi, an Egyptian-American, filed the lawsuit in March. He says he’s never done anything to attract law enforcement attention.
The GPS tracking device was found by a mechanic during a routine oil change. Not knowing exactly what the black box was or who had put it there, a friend of Afifi’s posted images of the GPS tracking device on the internet. Two days later, 6 FBI agents showed up at Afifi’s house, demanding their property back. The FBI insisted he immediately return the GPS tracking device.
FBI officials admit they secretly installed the GPS tracking device, but court documents filed Tuesday blacked out the reason why. The FBI also argues it shouldn’t have to destroy its records of the surveillance, as Afifi’s lawsuit demands.
The Justice Department says Afifi doesn’t have grounds to sue because he isn’t facing any harm and that FBI Director Mueller and Attorney General Holder are immune from such lawsuits.
The lawsuit says the agents who showed up to collect the device were “hostile,” threatening to charge Afifi if he didn’t immediately cooperate and refusing his request to have a lawyer present. The suit also says agents showed they knew private details about his life, such as which restaurants he dined at, the new job he’d just obtained and his plans to travel abroad.
Robert Mueller was nominated by President George W. Bush and became the sixth Director of the FBI in 2001.