In the Matter of 13 Seizures – Government Misconduct – CCR Docket 1987-1988

In April 1987 a delegation of people from the United States attended the Interna­tional Peace Gathering in Tripoli, Libya.

The individuals traveled under the auspices of  the  International Indian Treaty Council, the All-African People’s Revolutionary Party, and other groups represent­ing third world Americans.

Earlier in the year, President Reagan had issued a trade embargo and declared travel to Libya illegal under the Interna­tional Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA). Many people, however, believe that the executive order is illegal because IEEPA provides only for economic sanc­tions and the president’s ban includes hosted travel in which no moneys are exchanged.

Upon returning to the U.S., the travelers were not arrested or charged with violation of the travel ban. Customs agents, however, took books, pamphlets, posters, commemo­rative plates, and other materials from many of them. Customs asserted that the embargo against Libya and a law against the importation of seditious material were the bases for the seizures.

The groups sponsoring the travelers came to the CCR for help in securing return of the seized material. We are in the process of securing the return on the ground that the material is protected by the First Amendment and not otherwise wihin the ambit of the embargo.

Margaret Ratner, Michael Ratner, David Cole