Businessman Sues AP After He Ends Up on Terror Lists

By: (AP) A businessman who has blamed media organizations for confusing him with a one-time terrorist suspect alleges in an amended lawsuit that the errors originated with a mislabelled photograph circulated by The Associated Press.

Asif Iqbal, 32, a Pakistan-born software consultant who has lived in the United States for 11 years, bears the same name as a British postal worker who was freed in March 2004 after more than two years in U.S. military detention at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

Since February 2002, Iqbal has repeatedly been pulled aside for questioning at airport check-in counters -- and even grilled by police in front of staring crowds -- because his namesake was on a federal no-fly watch list created after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack.

Last August, Iqbal sued CBS News for mistakenly using his photograph in a report about his namesake and other Britons freed from Guantanamo. That lawsuit is still pending in New York Supreme Court -- the state's appellate court -- in Rochester, but Iqbal amended his complaint Friday to name the AP as a new defendant.

Iqbal's photo first appeared in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle in 2002 along with a story about his travel troubles. In April 2004, an Associated Press story detailing his continuing plight was relayed along with the newspaper photo and an accompanying caption identifying him as a victim of mistaken identity.

Iqbal alleges in his complaint that The AP, on at least three occasions in May, August, and October last year, distributed his photo worldwide along with a caption wrongly describing him as the former terrorist suspect with the same name.

Each time, the complaint alleged, the photo was distributed to AP subscribers to coincide with news reports involving the British detainees. In October, the four men sued the United States for $10 million each for abuse they allegedly suffered at Guantanamo Bay.

Last fall, when the former British detainees sued U.S. officials for $10 million in damages, Iqbal alleges in his complaint that The AP distributed his photograph along with a caption wrongly describing him as the former terrorist suspect with the same name.

Iqbal is seeking unspecified monetary damages from the AP, CBS News, and a growing list of media outlets that he says have distributed or used a wrongly labelled photo of him. He also called for an independent panel to be created to look into why the mistake happened and how to prevent it from recurring.

Calls to Iqbal's lawyer, Katherine Piccola, were not immediately returned.

AP spokesman Jack Stokes said the company had not been served and would not comment.


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