SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - The FBI and immigration service jailed an Iranian-born legal U.S. resident for 19 months because he wouldn't infiltrate San Jose-area mosques as a paid informant, the man claims in court.
Hassan Abpikar sued Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers David Harris and Dwayne Sanchez and FBI agent Robert Carr on Tuesday in Federal Court.
He claims the men violated his civil rights, falsely imprisoned him, assaulted and battered him and caused him emotional distress throughout the ordeal.
Neither the United States nor the agencies the officers work for are named as defendants in the lawsuit.
Abpikar, 54, was born in Tehran and came to the United States legally on a student visa, eventually earning advanced degrees in math and chemistry from San Jose State University, he says in the lawsuit.
After he became a permanent legal resident in 1983, Abpikar says he applied twice for citizenship - and both times missed his interview due to "time constraints."
In 2006 - two years after being denied citizenship for missing the second interview - Abpikar says San Jose Police arrested him for using a fake ID. Police released him shortly after the arrest, Abpikar says, but ICE picked him up almost immediately despite his permanent legal resident status.
He says immigration agents had held him for two weeks when an FBI agent came calling.
According to the complaint, the agent promised his immediate release if he would work as an FBI informant.
Abpikar claims he took the agent's card, agreed to go to the FBI office in San Jose the next day, and was promptly released from custody.
Abpikar says he visited the FBI office the next day. He claims the agent said he had already conducted a background check on him and decided he was a perfect candidate to infiltrate local mosques and keep an ear out for terrorism plans and threats.
But Abpikar says he didn't agree to become an informant - that he needed time to think about it. He says he never returned to the FBI office, and was arrested during a dinner with friends three months later.
Again, the charge was using a fake ID, Abpikar says. And once again, ICE put an immigration hold on him.
After another two weeks in federal custody, Abpikar says, defendant Sanchez served him with a notice to appear in immigration court. The notice alleged that Abpikar had "committed two crimes of moral turpitude and was therefore removable from the United States," according to the complaint.
But the immigration judge tossed the case, as Abpikar had not been convicted of any crime involving moral turpitude. The judge ordered his immediate release, but he remained in custody for another four days before being let go, Abpikar says.
He claims that two years passed before he was harassed by police again. This time, Santa Clara County Sheriff's deputies arrested him on a number of charges, including petty theft and - once again - possessing false identification. He bonded out, but was arrested again after the bail bond company canceled his bail "under the order of defendants," the complaint states.