Veteran Accuses Congo Officials of Torture

     WASHINGTON (CN) – A U.S. security adviser just released after months of captivity in the Democratic Republic of the Congo brought a federal complaint for torture.
     Congolese Justice Minister Alexis Thambwe Mwamba has accused U.S. veteran Darryl Lewis of being a mercenary sent to the country as part of an opposition plan to assassinate President Joseph Kabila.
     Lewis, who denies the allegations against him, says his ordeal began when Agence Nationale de Renseignements, or ANR, police nabbed him and three of his colleagues on April 24, 2016, during a political rally for opposition leader Moise Katumbi.
     In a complaint filed on July 29, Lewis says he had been working for Katumbi as an unarmed security adviser. Lewis alleges that the ANR dragged the four men out of their cars, assaulted them and confiscated their belongings.
     The 12-page complaint says Lewis underwent harsh interrogation at a jail in Lubumbashi that included physical abuse.
     “The object of the interrogation was to obtain a false confession that Mr. Lewis was an American mercenary soldier,” the complaint states.
     Lewis says the ANR also tried to obtain false confessions from his colleagues supporting that narrative. According to the complaint, he overheard an ANR officer brutally beat one of his Congolese colleagues so badly during an interrogation that he could hardly walk the next day.
     “During the beating, one of the ANR members came to the window of Mr. Lewis’s cell and said ‘you’re next,'” the lawsuit alleges.
     The ANR then moved the four men to the capital city of Kinshasa for six weeks, but failed to tell them where they were going while transporting them.
     “One of his Congolese colleagues familiar with the ANR stated that he thought that they were being transported to a remote location to be secretly executed and began weeping,” the complaint states.
     According to the lawsuit, ANR officers interrogated Lewis for 16 hours daily at the new location.
     “Interrogations were timed to disrupt sleep and cause severe sleep deprivation for Mr. Lewis,” the complaint alleges.
     His captors slowly starved him with small, infrequent meals and denied him basic hygiene necessities, and threatened him with indefinite imprisonment should they extract a confession from him, Lewis claims.
     “Mr. Lewis and other Americans have been singled out by defendants for persecution, false accusations, mistreatment, torture, illegal detention, and/or expulsion because they are Americans and, in the case of veterans such as Mr. Lewis, because they are veterans,” the lawsuit states.
     On May 4, Congolese Justice Minister Mwamba ordered the country’s general prosecutor to open a case against Katumbi, contending that 600 U.S. mercenaries, including Lewis, had entered the country as part of an opposition plot to destabilize it.
     The complaint alleges that Mwamba continues to use a false narrative of former U.S. military personnel infiltrating the government to overthrow it, with Lewis’s detention as supposed proof.
     The Democratic Republic of the Congo released Lewis on June 8, 2016, after diplomatic negotiations.
     Lewis sued Mwamba and the general administrator of the ANR, Kalev Mutond, under the Torture Victim Protection Act.
     His attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.

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