DETROIT — The federal government has refused to reveal why agents surveilled 28-year-old Nassif Sami Daher of Dearborn, a report from The Detroit News said Wednesday.
The News obtained federal court records detailing a previously unknown investigation by the FBI’s counter-terrorism division involving a controversial surveillance tool that has drawn scrutiny.
Daher became the subject of a surveillance operation that eventually ended with him being accused of food stamp fraud, not terrorism or espionage.
His lawyers want federal prosecutors to turn over evidence gathered while surveilling Daher, as well as the reasoning behind their actions.
“Sami is a nerd with a big ego and imagination, but he is not a terrorist or a national security threat,” his lawyer Amir Makled wrote in a court filing.
Daher is a self-described gas station worker who also delivers newspapers. His phone was wiretapped by investigators, Makled said.
“Sami has never killed anyone, nor slept with Hollywood stars or the countless women on the cover of Penthouse. He never joined organized crime or terrorist groups.”
The request is being opposed by prosecutors, The News’ report said. They plan to use evidence from electronic surveillance collected after receiving permission from a surveillance court judge to monitor Daher’s communications.
“I have never heard of a resident of Metropolitan Detroit being investigated through a FISA warrant,” Dawud Walid, executive director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told the News.
“This case raises questions as to what triggered the government’s interest in this individual,” Walid said. “The government should state the reason they got the warrant since they found no criminal activities related to any sort of terrorism or crime relating to a foreign government.
“This type of case echoes the concerns of the late federal court Judge Damon Keith, who said democracy dies behind closed doors,” he added.