New York City's secret police surveillance of mosques, Muslim businesses and a Muslim student group in New Jersey did not violate the US Constitution, a federal judge ruled on Thursday.
US District Judge William Martini in Newark, New Jersey, threw out a lawsuit brought by several New Jersey Muslims who claimed the New York Police Department illegally targeted them for undercover monitoring solely because of their religion.
The police department's widespread program was first revealed in a series of articles by the Associated Press, which reported that officers had infiltrated Muslim organizations throughout the region following the World Trade Center attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
The plaintiffs in the case, led by Syed Farhaj Hassan, a US Army reservist, claimed the program impaired their freedom of expression, caused them to stop attending religious services and threatened their careers.
In a 10-page ruling, Martini said the city had persuasively argued that its surveillance was intended as an anti-terrorism, not an anti-Muslim, measure.
"While this surveillance program may have had adverse effects upon the Muslim community after the Associated Press published its articles, the motive for the program was not solely to discriminate against Muslims, but rather to find Muslim terrorists hiding among ordinary, law-abiding Muslims," Martini wrote.