Wednesday, December 3, 2008

ACLU CHALLENGES GOVERNMENT'S AUTHORITY TO DESIGNATE CHARITIES AS TERRORISTS

ACLU - A federal court should block the government from blacklisting an Ohio-based charity without providing it due process and should lift a freeze on the organization's assets, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Ohio and several civil rights lawyers argued. The U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (]froze the funds of Kind Hearts for Charitable Humanitarian Development. more than 33 months ago without notice or a hearing, based simply on the assertion that the charity was "under investigation." OFAC then threatened to designate Kind Hearts as a "specially designated global terrorist" based on classified evidence, again without providing it with a reason or meaningful opportunity to defend itself.

"OFAC's unlimited authority to seize Kind Hearts' property and shut it down without giving the charity notice or an opportunity to defend itself is unconstitutional," said Hina Shamsi, staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project and lead ACLU attorney on the case. "Kind Hearts has been in limbo for more than two and a half years and is asking for independent judicial scrutiny of what has been, until now, unilateral government action."

Kind Hearts' founders established the charity in 2002 - after the government shut down a number of Muslim charities - with the express purpose of providing humanitarian aid abroad and at home in the United States in full compliance with the law. Despite the efforts Kind Hearts took to implement OFAC guidance and policies and otherwise exercise diligence, OFAC froze its assets in February 2006.

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