District judge orders release of CBP Iranian detention directive

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Along with other documents, a directive issued by Custom and Border Protection’s (CBP) Seattle Field Office to detain and question U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents crossing into the U.S. in early January was ordered released by chief judge Ricardo Martinez of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington.

The order, dated December 14, gave CBP 14 days to produce the documents to the plaintiff, The Council on American-Islamic Relations, Washington.

The existence of the document was first brought to the attention of the public by The Northern Light newspaper which published a photocopy of the directive on January 29 and was subsequently picked up by national media including the New York Times, Associated Press, Washington Post and more. The Northern Light received the copy from local Blaine immigration attorney Len Saunders after a whistle-blower passed him a copy.

CBP had denied the existence of the directive for months and resisted its release on the grounds that it was exempt from disclosing law enforcement techniques or procedures. Martinez rejected that argument by saying the exemption did not apply due to the unlawful nature of the directive.

Other documents released included communications involving Adele Fasano, then-director of the Seattle Field Office who was subsequently transferred to the Washington, D.C office. Fasano had disavowed knowledge of the directive or the subsequent detaining of travelers with Iranian background.

According to U.S. Representative Pramila Jayapal, Fasano had told her in a February 4 meeting that she had only heard of the detainments through news reports. However, Fasano was both receiving and sending emails regarding enforcement actions at the border throughout the weekend of January 4-5.

Washington D.C. headquarters had instructed all field officers to report on enforcement activities following the U.S. assassination of a top Iranian general.

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