WASHINGTON, Sept. 16, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Yesterday, September 15, 2016 in US District Court for the District of Columbia, Gilbert R. Chagoury filed a complaint against the United States Government under the Privacy Act and the Judicial Redress Act for leaking false information to the media, causing great damage to his reputation and property, and denying his Constitutional right to due process. The complaint names as defendants, the FBI, the Department of Justice, the National Counter Terrorism Center, the Department of State, the Department of Homeland Security, the Central Intelligence Agency, and US Customs and Border Protection.
Gilbert Chagoury has an exceptional record of public service and demonstrated commitment to core American values such as religious freedom. As the complaint makes clear, despite his well-known love of the United States and his numerous, generous charitable contributions over 35 years of visiting America, Gilbert Chagoury was denied a visa by the United States Department of State in 2015. This decision was based on false information. This injustice was compounded when anonymous employees of the US Government leaked information to the media about the denial of Mr. Chagoury's visa application, including the false information that led to the visa denial. Because Gilbert Chagoury is a successful businessman, an influential advocate for religious freedom, a global philanthropist and a friend of prominent political leaders including many here in the United States, the LA Times published the story.
"This was a deliberate, outrageous and unlawful leak of information and more importantly, misinformation about Gilbert Chagoury. It violated the Privacy Act, the Judicial Redress Act, and his right to due process. He is suing to recover his reputation and the property and business interests that have been unjustly harmed by this irresponsible action," said Stewart Baker of Steptoe and Johnson, LLP, attorney for Mr. Chagoury.
Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 552a(b), the FBI, DOJ, NCTC, State Department, DHS, and CBP may not "disclose any record which is contained in a system of records by any means of communication to any person, or to another agency" unless certain exceptions apply. At no point in time did Mr. Chagoury provide the Government with either verbal or written consent to disclose any information or misinformation concerning him to third parties.
While US citizens have long been protected by the Privacy Act, until recently, foreign nationals have not had recourse under that statute when their privacy has been violated by the US Government. The Judicial Redress Act extends those Privacy Act protections to citizens of certain other countries. Signed into law by the President in February 2016, the Judicial Redress Act allows foreign citizens in European countries to sue the United States for unlawful disclosure of personal information under the terms of the Privacy Act. Mr. Chagoury, a citizen of the United Kingdom, is bringing the first suit under the Judicial Redress Act.
"All of my life, from when I was a boy in Nigeria, I have loved America because it was the land of freedom and justice," Chagoury said. "I started coming to the United States over 35 years ago and have done everything I can to help America over my long career. I have close family members who are US citizens. To be falsely linked to terrorism and then have my reputation smeared in the media is an injustice that I could not allow to go unanswered."
"I have always been told that American justice demands due process, yet I was given no explanation for having my visa revoked and no opportunity to rebut these falsehoods before my reputation was dragged through the mud. That is not the America I know and love. I only want to clear my name."
This intentional leak to the media of false information about Mr. Chagoury repeats a similarly unlawful incident from 2010, when he was wrongly placed on the no-fly list, without notice or opportunity to be heard, and his placement on the no-fly list was leaked to the media. When challenged with facts, the U.S. Government reversed that decision, formally apologized and allowed him to travel to the United States, which he did multiple times without incident until recently.
As an important industrialist in Nigeria, and an ambassador to the Holy See and UNESCO, he has assisted the U.S. whenever possible, and U.S. Ambassadors and officials often call him to help solve their problems.
The Chagourys have been coming to Los Angeles for over 35 years. They frequently visit family members who are United States citizens and live in the United States. Their love of America has led the Chagourys to give generously to several American charitable organizations including St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital and the Beverly Hills 9-11 Memorial.
CONTACT: Mark Corallo
Corallo Media Strategies, Inc.
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SOURCE Gilbert Chagoury