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Visa ban: Chagoury sues U.S. Govt, CIA, FBI, Justice Department, others

For denying him visa and banning him from entering the United States (U.S.), the owner of Eko Hotels, Lagos, Gilbert Chagoury, has sued the U.S. government.
Chagoury, a big donor to the Clinton Foundation, has a home in Beverly Hills, California, U.S.
He is worth $4.2 billion.
Born in Nigeria in 1946 to Lebanese parents, he has dual citizenship and was educated at the Collège des Frères in Lebanon.
In 2015, he was barred from entering the U.S. and his visa denied based on alleged links with a terrorist group.
The U.S. government accused him of giving financial support to a Lebanese politician, Michael Aoun, who is believed to have a political coalition with Hezbollah, a terrorist organisation, according to the U.S. intelligence services.
To defend his integrity, the billionaire businessman, on Friday, filed a legal action against the U.S. government and its agencies for Privacy Act Violations.
The matter was filed in the District of Columbia.
The defendants are the U.S. Government, Department of State, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), the National Counter Terrorism Center, the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
It is the first case to be made under the Judicial Redress Act, which was signed into law by President Barack Obama in February, 2016.
Chagoury contends that intelligence information about him is wrong and that he was injured by the U.S. agencies which leaked it to the media.
In the papers filed, Chagoury declared that the U.S. government and its agencies caused great damage to his reputation and property, and denied his constitutional right to due process.
His lawyers, led by Stewart Baker of Steptoe and Johnson, maintained that Chagoury has an exceptional record of public service and demonstrated commitment to core American values such as religious freedom.
The papers read, inter alia: “This decision was based on false information. This injustice was compounded when anonymous employees of the U.S. Government leaked information to the media about the denial of Mr. Chagoury’s visa application, including the false information that led to the visa denial.
“Because Gilbert Chagoury is a successful businessman, an influential advocate for religious freedom, a global philanthropist and a friend of prominent political leaders including many here in the United States, the LA Times published the story.
“This was a deliberate, outrageous and unlawful leak of information and more importantly, misinformation about Gilbert Chagoury. It violated the Privacy Act, the Judicial Redress Act, and his right to due process. He is suing to recover his reputation and the property and business interests that have been unjustly harmed by this irresponsible action”.
Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 552a(b), the FBI, DOJ, NCTC, State Department, DHS, and CBP may not “disclose any record which is contained in a system of records by any means of communication to any person, or to another agency” unless certain exceptions apply. At no point in time did Chagoury provide the Government with either verbal or written consent to disclose any information or misinformation concerning him to third parties.
While U.S. citizens have long been protected by the Privacy Act, until recently, foreign nationals have not had recourse under that statute when their privacy has been violated by the US Government. The Judicial Redress Act extends those Privacy Act protections to citizens of certain other countries.
Signed into law by President Barack Obama in February 2016, the Judicial Redress Act allows foreign citizens in European countries to sue the United States for unlawful disclosure of personal information   under the terms of the Privacy Act.
Chagoury, also a citizen of the United Kingdom, is bringing the first suit under the Judicial Redress Act.
“All of my life, from when I was a boy in Nigeria, I have loved America because it was the land of freedom and justice,” Chagoury said.
“I started coming to the United States over 35 years ago and have done everything I can to help America over my long career. I have close family members who are U.S. citizens. To be falsely linked to terrorism and then have my reputation smeared in the media is an injustice that I could not allow to go unanswered.
“I have always been told that American justice demands due process, yet I was given no explanation for having my visa revoked and no opportunity to rebut these falsehoods before my reputation was dragged through the mud. That is not the America I know and love. I only want to clear my name.”
The lawyers said the intentional leak to the media of false information about Chagoury was a repeat of a similar unlawful incident from 2010, when he was wrongly placed on the no-fly list, without notice or opportunity to be heard, and his placement on the no-fly list was leaked to the media.
When challenged with facts, the U.S. Government reversed that decision, formally apologised and allowed him to travel to the United States, which he did multiple times without incident until recently.
“As an important industrialist in Nigeria, and an ambassador to the Holy See and UNESCO, Chagoury has assisted the U.S. whenever possible, and U.S. Ambassadors and officials often call him to help solve their problems.
“The Chagourys have been coming to Los Angeles for over 35 years. They frequently visit family members who are United States citizens and live in the United States. Their love of America has led the Chagourys to give generously to several American charitable organisations including St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital and the Beverly Hills 9-11 Memorial.
Following a WikiLeaks publication, Chagoury’s name has also been an issue in Hillary Clinton campaign for U.S. presidency, with Donald Trump, among others, using his link with the Clinton Foundation to accuse the Clintons of offering favours to the businessman.
The businessman’s trouble with American security officials began in 2010, when he was pulled off a private jet in Teterboro, New Jersey, and questioned by Homeland Security officials for four hours because his name was now on the no-fly list within the United States.
Chagoury later received a letter that said his name was taken off the list and he was now considered a ‘selectee,’ meaning he was allowed to fly, but would receive extra scrutiny.
Chagoury’s name was later added to a database used to screen passengers for terror links, a linkage he has denied.
Married to Rose-Marie Chamchoum, also a Lebanese with links to Niger Republic, the couple has four children, Ramez, Gilbert-Antoine, Christopher and Anne-Marie.

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