(WASHINGTON, D.C., 5/31/13) — The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, announced today that it has joined with Oregon attorney Thomas H. Nelson in filing a lawsuit yesterday on behalf of a Muslim former resident of that state who claims he was tortured in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) at the behest of the FBI and State Department.
Named in Yonas Fikre's suit are Attorney General Eric Holder, Secretary of State John Kerry, FBI Director Robert Mueller, and two Portland-based FBI agents. The lawsuit, filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Oregon, seeks $30 million in damages and injunctions against similar mistreatment of American citizens.
Read the entire lawsuit.
Last year, CAIR called on the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Civil Rights Division to investigate Fikre's claims that he was beaten on the soles of his feet, kicked and punched, and held in stress positions while interrogators shouted questions similar to those posed to him by FBI agents and other American officials.
Fikre said he rejected an FBI demand that he act as an informant. He is currently seeking asylum in Sweden because he fears what U.S. officials may do to him if he returns.
CAIR: American Muslim Alleges FBI Had a Hand in His Torture (Mother Jones)
“Our nation's leaders must be held accountable if they use foreign proxies to violate the constitutional rights of American citizens,” said CAIR Staff Attorney Gadeir Abbas, who is co-counsel in the lawsuit.
CAIR has previously called on the DOJ to investigate acts of “coercion and intimidation” allegedly used by the FBI's Portland Field Office to pressure Muslim citizens into giving up their constitutional rights if they wished to return to the United States from overseas. Fikre is originally from Portland.
In 2011, CAIR filed a lawsuit against the DOJ and the FBI seeking a court order to allow a Virginia Muslim teenager who had been detained in Kuwait and placed on a U.S. government no-fly list to return to the United States. Earlier this week, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected government efforts to dismiss that case.
CAIR has assisted a number of other American Muslim citizens who have been stranded overseas by government actions.
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
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CONTACT: CAIR Staff Attorney Gadeir Abbas, 202-742-6410, 720-251-0425, firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, email@example.com; CAIR Communications Manager Amina Rubin, 202-488-8787, 202-341-4171, firstname.lastname@example.org