Aaron B. Tobey, Airport Security Strip Protester, Sues TSA Over Arrest (UPDATE)
by Libby ZayPosted Aug 11th 2011 09:30 AM
Aaron Tobey, 21, of Charlottesville, Va., was passing through Virginia's Richmond International Airport on December 30, when he opted-out of going through the full body scanner. He was, instead, seeking an enhanced pat down, and, when he went through security, took off his clothes to reveal the Fourth Amendment written on his chest in magic marker.
Tobey was handcuffed and briefly held on charges of disorderly conduct. A federal civil rights lawsuit was filed on his behalf, claiming Tobey's First and Fourth Amendment rights were violated.
Now, U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson will rule in two weeks on whether or not to dismiss the lawsuit, reports the Associated Press. He also set a tentative trial date for January 18.
Carlotta Wells, an attorney for the federal defendants, said all the TSA did was call for police assistance when Tobey refused the body scan and began stripping and placing his clothes on the X-ray conveyor belt.
"What he was doing was unusual, unexpected and out of the ordinary," she told the AP.
But, all Tobey did was obey the officers' commands, asserts Anand Agneshwar, Tobey's lawyer, according to The Richmond Times-Dispatch. He adds that the TSA and airport police went beyond what was necessary to ensure that his client wasn't a threat.
Previously, 3/15/2011: A 21-year-old college student who was arrested for stripping down at airport security is suing the Transportation Security Administration for $250,000.
Aaron Tobey, a student at the University of Cincinnati, was passing through Richmond International Airport in Virginia last December when he opted out of going through the controversial "naked body scanner" advanced imaging machines and requested an enhanced pat-down. As he went through airport security, Tobey took off his pants and shirt to reveal an abbreviated version of the Fourth Amendment scrawled across his chest in magic marker.
He went there knowing he would not do the advanced imaging and do that pat-down instead," Tobey's attorney, James Knicely, tells Wired.com. "He was making it easy for them and in the process he wanted to communicate his objection for doing so."
The federal civil rights lawsuit that was filed on Tobey's behalf by the Rutherford Institute, a civil liberties group, claims Tobey's First Amendment and Fourth Amendment rights were breached when the student was handcuffed and held for roughly 90 minutes after being detained on charges of disorderly conduct.
"Tobey was unduly seized by government agents in violation of the Fourth Amendment, despite the fact that he did nothing to disrupt airport routine," says John W. Whitehead, president of the Rutherford Institute in a statement.
According to the suit, authorities interrogated Tobey "about his affiliation with, or knowledge of, any terrorist organizations, if he had been asked to do what he did by any third party, and what his intentions and goals were."
Tobey was on the way to Wisconsin for his grandmother's funeral when he made the magic marker protest. Despite the detainment, he made his flight.
On January 10, it was reported that the disorderly conduct charges against Tobey were dropped.
Tobey did not respond to an e-mailed request by AOL News for an interview.
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