According to a report on Wired.com, a 20-year-old Arab-American college student was visited by several FBI agents after he found and removed an apparent government tracking device from his car.
The student, Yasir Afifi, told Wired he found the device on his car after taking it to a mechanic. He removed the device and posted a photo of it online (which you can see at the left). Then, he says, he got a visit from FBI agents.
The FBI has refused to comment on an “ongoing investigation.” But according to Afifi, several agents showed up at his California apartment a few days after the photos were posted. Readers had identified it as a tracking device that’s only sold to law enforcement agencies.“We’re here to recover the device you found on your vehicle. It’s federal property. It’s an expensive piece, and we need it right now,” one agent said. When Afifi asked if they had put it there, the man, who identified himself as Vincent said, “Yeah, I put it there. We’re going to make this much more difficult for you if you don’t cooperate.”
Afifi said that the agents, through the course of the ensuing conversation, revealed that they had been following him for several months. They knew which restaurants he went to and asked him about the job he just got, he said, and knew he was planning a business trip to Dubai.
“We have all the information we needed,” they told him as the left. “You don’t need to call your lawyer. Don’t worry, you’re boring. ”
Afifi said he’s done nothing that would warrant suspicion from the FBI. He’s an American citizen, as are his parents. After his parents divorced, he told Wired, his father returned to his native Egypt with Afifi’s two teenage brothers, whom Afifi helps support financially.
He also told Wired he knows he’s on a federal watch list and often has to undergo extra screening at airports.
Federal courts have been grappling with the question of whether law enforcement agencies can secretly place GPS devices on citizens’ cars — and whether they can do it without a warrant.