Shahbaz Taseer sues US airline over threat hoax
SAN FRANCISCO: The son of late Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer has sued American Airlines because he and his wife were escorted from a plane last year in handcuffs in response to a telephone hijacking threat that turned out to be a hoax.
Shahbaz Ali Taseer and his wife, Maheen Ghani Taseer, claim they were victims of racial profiling by the airline and San Francisco police when they were taken off the New York-bound flight at San Francisco airport on August 19, 2010. “The only reason police went to them is because their names were Maheen Ghani Taseer and Shahbaz Ali Taseer,” the couple’s attorney Joel Siegal said. “They were singled out and treated as the most vile terrorists.”
The lawsuit, first filed in March in San Francisco Superior Court, was transferred to federal court on Tuesday. The plane was diverted to a remote stretch of tarmac after authorities were notified of a telephone threat that it would be hijacked. The Taseers were the only passengers to be interrogated and held for hours, the lawsuit states. The FBI later determined the threat was a hoax.
In a statement, American Airlines spokesman Tim Smith said the allegations in the lawsuit do not indicate anyone at the airline did anything wrong or support the claims made against the airline. “Accordingly, we soon intend to move to dismiss the claims against American Airlines,” Smith said. San Francisco Police spokesman Albie Esparza said the department does not comment on pending litigation.
The suit alleges the newly married couple suffered extreme humiliation and embarrassment, harm to their reputations and a fear of travel. It seeks unspecified damages. The couple was vacationing in the United States and heading to New York to catch a flight back to Pakistan. Siegal said they are currently in Pakistan. Shahbaz Taseer is the son of Salmaan Taseer, who was assassinated by an extremist in January. Salmaan Taseer was fatally shot at a market in Islamabad by one of his own bodyguards, who later confessed to killing Taseer because the politician advocated changing the country’s blasphemy law. ap