Updates to our Terms of Use

We are updating our Terms of Use. Please carefully review the updated Terms before proceeding to our website.

Wednesday, June 12, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Translator Says Army Tortured Him in Iraq

WASHINGTON (CN) - A former translator in Iraq, who is also an American citizen, says the the U.S. military abducted, beat and imprisoned him for 9 months, after he helped opened talks with the sheikh who led the "Sunni uprising" against al Qaeda.

The John Doe plaintiff says he never was charged with any crime and was released after 280 days of unconstitutional torture and detention in U.S. military prisons, in his complaint against the government and Donald Rumsfeld.

John Doe, 52, a U.S. citizen and Army veteran, says he speaks five languages and worked as a translator for a civilian defense contractor in Iraq. His lead counsel is Arthur Loevy with Loevy & Loevy in Chicago.

Doe sued former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, whom he says devised and approved the unconstitutional policies that led to his abduction, torture and prolonged detention; Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff; FBI Director Robert Mueller; Assistant Secretary of Immigration and Customs Enforcement Julie Myers; and the unidentified officials who detained and tortured him and failed to intervene.

Doe says he arrived in Iraq on Dec. 4, 2004, to work as an Arabic translator for the Marine Corps. He was assigned to a "Marine Corps Human Exploitation Team" near the Syrian border. "In that capacity, he risked his life to make inroads and develop a relationship with one of America's staunchest allies in Iraq: Sheikh Abd Al-Sattar Aby Risha ('Sheikh Abd Al-Sattar'). As is now publicly known, Sheikh Abd Al-Sattar was instrumental in leading the revolt of Sunni sheikhs against Al Qaeda in the Anbar province and has been recognized by President George Bush for his bravery. Plaintiff was the first American to open direct talks with Sheikh Abd Al-Sattar and paved the way for the relationship between our country and the Sheikh. Tragically, Sheikh Abd Al-Sattar was assassinated in September 2007, likely the product of retaliation by Al Qaeda operatives," according to the 67-page complaint.

Doe says he was leaving Iraq after completing his tour of duty when the U.S. military abducted him from Al Asad air base on Nov. 4, 2005. He says he was blindfolded, kicked, and a necklace ripped from his neck.

According to the complaint:

Doe was taken to Camp Cropper, as a "high value" detainee and locked in a cell. He was imprisoned for 280 days. The lights were kept on around the clock and music was blared at intolerable volume. Soldiers banged on the door if they saw him sleeping. They choked him and threatened him with death. He was held in isolation for 3 months, denied access to an attorney. His family had no idea what had become of him. He was interrogated and taken twice to a "Detainee Status Board," which authorized his continued detention. His cell had no water or toilet. He was taken to a toilet - a hole in the ground - once a day. His second appearance before the Detainee Status Board was in July 2006. He was finally released on Aug. 10, 2006. But the defendants have put him on a "terrorist watch list." He is blacklisted from his former occupation and cannot travel.

The complaint summarizes his treatment: "In November 2005, Plaintiff, an American citizen, was abducted by officials of our government and illegally imprisoned in a United States military compound located in Iraq. Plaintiff was not held for the purpose of an investigation or prosecution by any branch or component of the Iraqi government. Nor did United States officials charge him with any crime, nor had he committed any crime. Plaintiff was not told when or if he would ever be able to leave. For months, no one in his family could find out if he was even alive. All they knew was that he had disappeared.

"Throughout his detention, plaintiff was held in torturous conditions of confinement, subjected to threats on his life, and denied an attorney or even access to a legitimate court to challenge the government's actions.

"While it is unconscionable for any American citizen to be kidnapped and abused by our government officials, it is all the more outrageous here because plaintiff is an American hero who was guilty of nothing and who had been serving his country honorably and courageously in the war in Iraq. Plaintiff, a civilian contractor, was working in Iraq translating Arabic for the U.S. Marine Corps. In that capacity, he risked his life to make inroads and develop a relationship with one of America's staunchest allies in Iraq: Sheikh Abd Al-Sattar Abu Risha".

He demands damages for constitutional violations, false arrest, unlawful detention, conspiracy, "torturous and unlawful interrogations," denial of right to counsel, denial of the right to confront witnesses against him or see evidence against him, unconstitutional conditions of confinement and denial of work through "blacklisting," and denial of the right to travel. And he wants his seized property back.

Co-counsel includes Jesselyn Radack and Richard Condit with the Government Accountability Project in Washington.

Categories / Uncategorized

Subscribe to Closing Arguments

Sign up for new weekly newsletter Closing Arguments to get the latest about ongoing trials, major litigation and hot cases and rulings in courthouses around the U.S. and the world.