A Colorado lawyer stopped by local police in three states because his name appears on a federal terrorist watch list is challenging the government’s ability to detain him, the Denver Post reports. Francisco “Kiko” Martinez charges in a federal lawsuit that federal and state officials violated his constitutional rights during traffic stops. In Colorado, Illinois and New Mexico, police stopped Martinez on traffic violations and held him without a warrant for hours, in one case handcuffing him and placing him in a locked police car, while they checked his status with federal counter-terrorism officials, the suit alleges. “We’re challenging their ability to subject him to de facto arrests. They’re not just tracking him,” said his attorney, Richard Rosenstock of Santa Fe.
Martinez, 60, said he is reluctant to drive, especially with his grandchildren, let alone fly, for fear of detention by police. He contends that he wrongfully was placed on a federal Violent Gang and Terrorist Organization list after he was charged with sending letter bombs in 1973. Now his name apparently remains in a federal terrorist- screening database available to police nationwide. President Bush in 2003 ordered creation of the system, which consolidates watch lists maintained by several branches of government. FBI officials say the watch-list system is a crucial tool against terrorism.