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Constitutional Law

US Citizen Sues Feds Over ‘Rendition’ Outside American Court System

Posted Nov 11, 2009 3:41 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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An American citizen who was allegedly held and interrogated in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia at the behest of his own country's law enforcement agents over a several-month period in 2007 filed a federal lawsuit in Washington, D.C., yesterday contending that the "rendition" violated his constitutional rights.

Amir Mohamed Meshal, who was never charged and is now back in his home state of New Jersey, is represented by the American Civil Liberties Union and Yale Law School in the suit over his treatment as a terrorism suspect, according to the New York Times and the Washington Post.

"U.S. officials repeatedly threatened Mr. Meshal with torture, forced disappearance, and execution in order to coerce him to confess to wrongdoing in which he had not engaged and to associations that he did not have," the suit states. It focuses on two agents of the FBI and two unidentified American officials who allegedly questioned him in Kenya and Ethiopia.

Meshal, 26, says in the suit that his treatment was tantamount to torture, the Times reports, although it does not allege that he was physically harmed. A Muslim who is the son of Egyptian immigrants, he was reportedly in Somalia in 2006 as a student of Islam and fled to Kenya later that year.

The lawsuit is the first brought by a U.S. citizen over the practice of taking terrorism suspects to other countries for aggressive questioning, the Post says.

An FBI spokesman declined to comment, telling the Post that doing so would be contrary to U.S. Department of Justice policy concerning civil litigation.

Additional coverage:

Associated Press: "NJ man sues FBI over his detention in Ethiopia"

BBC News: "FBI sued over Ethiopian jailing"

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