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Tue, Sep 27, 2005

Pilot Loses Job After Fighting No-Fly Listing

Commercial Pilot Says He's Victim Of Government Retaliation

Robert Gray is out of a job, thanks to the TSA and its decision to put him on a no-fly list. Gray, a Cape Air pilot based in Massachusetts, said no-fly means no job.

"I haven't been involved in any kind of terrorism, and I never committed any crime," Gray told the Boston Globe. The 35-year old immigrant from Belfast, Northern Ireland, said he has no idea why he's suddenly turned up on the TSA's list. "Ever since I came here I've loved this country for what it stands for, and this goes against everything that I've ever learned about this country and how it treats people. This is the kind of nightmarish situation you think happened in Stalinist Russia or Nazi Germany, but not in America."

The nightmare is just as real for Gray's fiancee, Joy Valante. She told the Globe the couple has now been forced to delay their wedding and their Tuscan honeymoon.

Gray said his named first appeared on a no-fly list when he tried to take lessons so he could obtain ratings in bigger aircraft. But last fall, the TSA rejected his request, saying he posed a threat to national security. Dumbfounded, Gray sued the federal government -- and, he said, his nightmare grew even worse.

His lawyers said the government gave them a printout showing that the Robert Gray in question wasn't the Cape Air pilot at all. Instead, the documents indicated, the man the government doesn't want on airplanes is Hispanic. Still, Gray lost an administrative appeal. Now, his lawyers are again suing the government, claiming he's become the victim of reprisals.

An assistant US Attorney in Boston denied that allegation on Sunday.

"If they can't get that right, then what else have they got wrong?" Gray asked.

FMI: www.tsa.gov

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