ACLU files lawsuit alleging FBI involvement in rendition of US citizen

[JURIST] The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] filed suit [complaint, PDF; press release] Tuesday on behalf of US citizen Amir Meshal, alleging that FBI agents were involved in his interrogation and rendition in Somalia, Kenya, and Ethiopia in 2007. The suit, filed in the US District Court for the District of Columbia [official website], alleges that agents repeatedly threatened Meshal with torture, disappearance, and execution in order to force him to acknowledge ties with al Qaeda. Meshal was originally detained in Kenya while fleeing fighting in Mogadishu between militia known as Islamic Courts Union [BBC profile] and forces of the US and Ethiopian-backed Transitional Federal Government of Somalia [official website; JURIST news archive]. After being held in Kenya, Meshal was returned to Somalia and eventually taken to Ethiopia where he was held until his release in May of 2007. No charges were ever filed against Meshal.

The issue of west African renditions was first raised by Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] in March 2007 when they claimed [JURIST report] that the US, Kenya, and Ethiopia were cooperating with the transitional government of Somalia to secretly detain people fleeing that country's conflict. Further reports alleged [JURIST report] that US intelligence agents were involved with the secret prisons in Ethiopia and that citizens of western nations such as Sweden, Canada, and the US were being held there along with citizens of west African nations. The governments of Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia have all denied illegally transporting and jailing people, claiming they have only taken action against legitimate suspects.



 

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