Arabic Interpreter Can Pursue Slavery Claims

     (CN) – An interpreter who claimed to have been enslaved by the U.S. military can proceed with his case against the former Secretary of the Army and the defense contractor that hired him, the D.C. Circuit ruled.

     Abdulwahab Nattah, an alleged dual citizen of Libya and the United States, took a job with L-3 Communications Titan Group as an Arabic-language interpreter. He said L-3 promised that he would work in Kuwait and stay in a luxury hotel. Under no circumstances was he to be sent to the Iraqi combat zone, he claimed.
     But that’s exactly what happened, according to Nattah. He allegedly stayed in a military camp in the desert, where he was required to share a tent with 40 soldiers, “eat distasteful food and live in substandard conditions,” the ruling states. He also claimed that nearby explosions caused him to suffer nerve damage, hearing loss and other medical problems.
     Upon returning to the United States, Nattah filed 20 claims against L-3, former President George W. Bush, former Vice President Dick Cheney, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other government employees.
     The district court dismissed Nattah’s claims, but the Washington, D.C.-based appellate panel said the court must reconsider Nattah’s breach of contract claim against L-3 and his non-monetary claims against former Army Secretary Francis Harvey.
     Those claims include slavery, and violations of the right to travel, the Geneva Convention and international law.
     “[W]e conclude Nattah’s complaint states a claim against L-3 for breach of its oral contract with Nattah,” Judge Janice Brown wrote for the three-judge panel. “Nattah alleges with specificity the several terms of the oral contract and how L-3 breached those terms.”
     She reached a similar conclusion with the non-monetary claims against Harvey.
     “Because Nattah’s non-monetary claims against Secretary Harvey would survive a motion to dismiss … we remand for further proceedings on those claims,” Brown wrote.

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