Rights group sues CIA, FBI over American citizen's detention in United Arab Emirates
LOS ANGELES – American Civil Liberties Union lawyers filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the FBI, CIA and other federal intelligence agencies, accusing them of detaining and torturing an American citizen later convicted on terrorism charges in the United Arab Emirates.
The lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Southern California seeks information about the treatment of Naji Hamdan, an American of Lebanese origin who was arrested in the United Arab Emirates in August 2008.
The ACLU accuses U.S. agencies of colluding with United Arab Emirates security forces, which kept Hamdan in a secret prison in Abu Dhabi without charging him with a crime until an earlier lawsuit by the rights group prompted his transfer to an official prison.
Hamdan, 44, who now lives in Lebanon with his family, was released in October 2009 after being convicted and sentenced to time served.
The former auto parts dealer and manager of the Hawthorne Islamic Center in Southern California has said he confessed under torture and suspected that U.S. authorities played a role in his detention and prosecution.
The ACLU said in its lawsuit that U.S. intelligence officials have refused to divulge any information about Hamdan's imprisonment, despite a Freedom of Information Act request filed in January.
FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller declined to comment on the specific allegations, but said the bureau strictly adheres to the U.S. Constitution and internal regulations protecting suspects' rights and does not ask foreign governments to detain individuals on the U.S. government's behalf in order to circumvent their rights.
The CIA did not return a call.