(CHRON) — WASHINGTON (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union on Tuesday released records it obtained from the FBI that it said showed the bureau’s San Francisco division used its Muslim outreach efforts to collect intelligence on religious activities protected by the Constitution.
Under the U.S. Privacy Act, the FBI is generally prohibited from maintaining records on how people practice their religion unless there is a clear law enforcement purpose. ACLU lawyers said the documents, which the organization obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, showed violations of that law.
After reviewing the ACLU documents, the FBI said the reports that contained notes about religious activity were appropriate because the agents were meeting with members of the Muslim community for law enforcement purposes.
The documents are from 2004 through 2008, before the FBI established a formal community outreach program and before it put in place sweeping new rules governing the collection of intelligence.