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You are here News Human Rights Can the US Government Confiscate a Citizen's Passport for No Apparent Reason? It Just Did

Can the US Government Confiscate a Citizen's Passport for No Apparent Reason? It Just Did

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Nader el DajaniWhen two FBI agents called Nader el-Dajani in August 2012 and asked if he could meet at Starbucks for a chat, he instead invited them to his home in Fort Wayne, Indiana, for coffee and tea. The 55-year-old businessman, who lives in Bahrain for most of each year, hadn't been charged with a crime, and the FBI agents never explained why they were interested in him. Dajani didn't have to tell the agents anything. But he did.

He explained that, a few months earlier, he'd been stopped and questioned by Department of Homeland Security officers at a London airport because he was carrying multiple cellphones, which he uses during his international travels. He readily answered the agents' questions about his travels in the Middle East—where he owns several businesses—and his knowledge of the region. He thought it was the right thing to do. "I told them everything," he says. "I was open." He assumed that cooperating with the bureau would make his life easier.

He was wrong. Dajani, who is of Palestinian descent, has been an American citizen since the mid-1980s. He owns several businesses in Bahrain, where he spends much of his time. One of these businesses involves selling security equipment—including access controls and retinal scanners—to telecommunications companies. It requires a lot of face-to-face meetings, so he travels regularly around the region and the world. Until the incident in London, he hadn't had any problems at the airport.

The FBI agents said they'd try to fix his problems. But in the two years since they visited his house, he's faced additional screening and questions every time he travels. Each time, he submitted to searches and answered questions.

Now Dajani's livelihood is at stake.

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