The agent, Michael Kelly, based in San Jose, misunderstood the directions on the form and “erroneously nominated” Rahinah Ibrahim to the list in 2004, the judge wrote. “He checked the wrong boxes, filling out the form exactly the opposite way from the instructions on the form,” U.S. District Judge William Alsup wrote today. The decision makes Ibrahim, 48, the first person to successfully challenge placement on a government watch list.
Much of the federal court trial, in which the woman sought only to clear her name, was conducted in secret after U.S. officials repeatedly invoked the state secrets privilege and sought to have the case dismissed. Attorneys working pro bono spent as much as $300,000 litigating the case and $3.8 million in attorney’s fees.