June 13, 2014
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NEW YORK– A federal court on Friday dismissed an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit on behalf of a U.S. citizen who was illegally detained and mistreated by American officials in three east African countries in 2007. After fleeing unrest in Somalia, New Jersey resident Amir Meshal was arrested, secretly imprisoned in inhumane conditions, and harshly interrogated by FBI agents over 30 times before ultimately being released without charge four months later.
The ACLU argued in court in December 2013 that Meshal's treatment violated his Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights to a judicial hearing and the prohibition against torture under U.S. law. While expressing outrage over Meshal's ordeal, Judge Emmet G. Sullivan of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled in favor of the government's argument that "national security" considerations abroad preclude a judicial remedy for even the most flagrant misconduct.
ACLU National Security Project Director Hina Shamsi had this reaction:
"FBI agents subjected Mr. Meshal, a U.S. citizen, to unlawful detention and harsh abuse while he was abroad and at their mercy, and he went to court seeking accountability for constitutional violations. While we appreciate the court's outrage at the appalling mistreatment Mr. Meshal suffered at the hands of his own government, we are deeply disappointed at the court's conclusion that it does not have the power to provide him a remedy.
"It is a sad day for Mr. Meshal and for all Americans, who have a right to expect better of their government and their courts than immunity for terrible government misconduct."
Information on the lawsuit is at: www.aclu.org/national-security/meshal-v-higgenbotham