LOS ANGELES (CN) – After the FBI, CIA and other federal agencies subjected two brothers to “constant surveillance and questioning over the course of a decade,” one was “arrested by the United Arab Emirates authorities at the behest of the U.S. government and detained in a secret location where he was tortured and interrogated with U.S. approval,” the brothers claim in Federal Court. “He filed a lawsuit in federal district court alleging that the U.S. government was complicit in his abduction. Shortly afterwards, he was released from the secret prison.”
Naji Hamdan claims he was abducted, imprisoned and tortured, and his brother, Hossam Hemdan (sic), was subjected to “intensive surveillance.”
With counsel from the ACLU, the brothers say they submitted FOIA requests in January to “a number of federal agencies,” including the FBI, CIA, the Pentagon, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, the U.S. Bureau of Customs and Border Protection, and the Director of National Intelligence.
“Their request seeks to uncover information about why the federal government subjected Mr. Naji Hamdan and Mr. Hossan Hemdan to constant surveillance and questioning over the course of a decade, and what role the federal government played in the overseas detention and torture of Mr. Naji Hamdan. Plaintiffs know the government has a significant number of documents responsive to their request, given their interactions with defendant agencies that generated documents, including, for example, records of voluntary FBI and CBP interviews, ACLU correspondence, Department of State consular memos, and an affidavit submitted by the FBI in Mr. Hamdan’s prior lawsuit. Despite the passage of time, plaintiffs have not received a single record in response to their request.”
The brothers say the documents will “shed light on” the U.S. government’s deals with foreign countries to detain and torture suspected terrorists.
Hamdan, a U.S. citizen of Lebanese descent, says he was “detained and tortured at a secret prison in the United Arab Emirates” in 2008, and that the “U.S. government was complicit in his abduction” after watching him for a decade.
“Plaintiffs seeks to shed light on the U.S. government’s practice of contracting foreign governments to detain, interrogate and often torture individuals it suspects – rightly or wrongly – of having connections to terrorism because it cannot lawfully do so itself,” the complaint states. “Plaintiffs believe Naji Hamdan was arrested by the United Arab Emirates authorities at the behest of the U.S. government and detained in a secret location where he was tortured and interrogated with U.S. approval.”
Hamdan was released with the help of the ACLU, then was prosecuted in “sham criminal proceedings in the U.A.E., at the direction … of the U.S. government,” the complaint states. He was sentenced in 2009 to “time served” and deported to Lebanon.
Hamdan says that U.A.E. officials subjected him to “severe forms or torture in order to extract false confessions to an ever-changing array of terrorist activities and affiliations,” including “keeping him in a refrigerated, underground room, with almost no clothing for prolonged periods of time,” and “telling him that they would bring his wife there and rape her if he did not confess to what they wanted to hear.”
Hamdan claims one of his interrogators was American, “because he spoke to him in perfect English with an American accent and did not speak Arabic.”
Hamdan moved to Los Angeles from Lebanon in the 1980s. He owned an auto parts business and was a volunteer imam at a mosque in Hawthorne, Calif., until he moved to the U.A.E. in 2006. He says that FBI agents first visited him 1999, asking if he knew Osama Bin Laden. Agents questioned him seven times after Sept. 11, 2001, he says.
The FBI investigated and watched his brother, Hossam Hemdan, for several years in Los Angeles, according to the complaint.
The brothers want to see the documents. They are represented by Jennifer Pasquarella and Ahilan Arulanantham with the ACLU.