ACLU Lawsuit Charges Feds With Hiding Information On Torture Of US Citizen

Naji Hamdan says he was beaten unconscious in a secret prison in the UAE.

ByABC News
June 8, 2009, 10:41 AM

Aug. 18, 2010 — -- The ACLU filed suit in federal court in California today to force the CIA, the FBI and other federal agencies to tell what they know about the alleged torture and detention of a U.S. citizen who was held in a secret prison in the UAE for months.

The suit claims that the federal government has ignored a Freedom of Information Act request filed six months ago that asked for information about the long-term surveillance of Naji Hamdan by the FBI, and his arrest, detention and alleged torture in the Emirates, which Hamdan claims included interrogation by an unidentified American.

"This suit seeks to shed light on the US government's practice of contracting with foreign governments to detain, interrogate and often torture individuals it suspects – rightly or wrongly – of having connections to terrorism, because the U.S. cannot lawfully engage in these tactics itself," said Jennie Pasquarella, an ACLU of Southern California staff attorney.

The suit names the FBI, CIA, NSA, the State Department and a host of other federal agencies as defendants.

Hamdan was born in Lebanon but lived with his family in Southern California for more than 20 years before moving to the UAE in 2006, where he was detained by security forces in August 2008 and taken to an unknown location. Three months after he was taken, the ACLU filed its suit in the United States seeking information on possible U.S. government involvement in the matter. One week later, the lawsuit claims, the UAE government moved Hamdan to a different prison and charged Hamdan under UAE law with participating in the work of a terror organization, assisting the work of a terror organization, and promoting terror.

After 11 more months in custody and then a four-month trial, Hamdan was convicted in a UAE court in October 2009 of supporting and spreading terrorism. The prosecutor had sought life in prison or the death penalty, but Hamdan received an 18-month sentence, which meant he was released shortly after the verdict with time served. He left the UAE and moved to Lebanon.

After 11 more months in custody and then a four-month trial, Hamdan was convicted in a UAE court in October 2009 of supporting and spreading terrorism. The prosecutor had sought life in prison or the death penalty, but Hamdan received an 18-month sentence, which meant he was released shortly after the verdict with time served. He left the UAE and moved to Lebanon. 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