Pakistani Businessman Sues Associated Press
By Abdus Sattar Ghazali

A Pakistani businessman has sued the Associated Press news agency for circulating a mislabeled photograph that confused him with a terrorist suspect once detained in Guantanamo Bay.
Asif Iqbal, 32, a Pakistan-born software consultant who has been living in the United States for 11 years, bears the same name as a British postal worker who was freed in March 2004 after more than two years in US military detention at Guantanamo Bay. The Guantanamo Bay detainee who is also named Asif Iqbal is 20 years old and a British subject who was captured in Afghanistan in 2001.
Since February 2002, Iqbal - a graduate of the University of Texas - a frequent traveler for business, has repeatedly been pulled aside for questioning at airport check-in counters and even grilled by police in front of staring crowds because his namesake was on a federal "no-fly" watch list created after the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. In March last year, the New York Civil Liberties Union urged the Transportation Security Administration to end the ordeal of Asif Iqbal.
“Mr. Iqbal’s Guantanamo detainee namesake who precipitated these incidents has been released as no threat, yet, Iqbal continues to be harassed,” said the NY Civil Liberties Union. “It’s scary that the government cannot distinguish between a law-abiding permanent resident and a suspect it held for more than two years in Guantanamo.”
In April 2004, an Associated Press story detailing his continuing plight was relayed along with the newspaper photo and an accompanying caption identifying him as a victim of mistaken identity. Iqbal said in his complaint that the AP, on at least three occasions in May, August and October last year, distributed his photo worldwide along with a caption wrongly describing him as the former terrorist suspect with the same name.
Iqbal is seeking unspecified monetary damages from the AP, CBS News and a growing list of media outlets that he says have distributed or used a wrongly labeled photo of him.


Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
2004 . All Rights Reserved.