American alleges mistreatment by US officials

AP News
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Posted: Nov 10, 2009 4:59 PM

A New Jersey man alleged in a lawsuit Tuesday that U.S. officials were responsible for falsely imprisoning him for several months in Africa on suspicion of having ties to al-Qaida.

Amir Meshal of Tinto Falls, N.J., says that in December 2006 he fled Mogadishu, Somalia, where he had gone to study Islam, and was accused by U.S. officials who interrogated him in neighboring Kenya of receiving training from al-Qaida.

Meshal's suit says that U.S. officials consented to sending him back to Somalia and eventually to Ethiopia where he was imprisoned in secret for several months.

Meshal is suing two FBI officials and two unknown agents of the U.S. government for unspecified compensation and punitive damages, saying that following his arrest in Kenya, U.S. officials there threatened him and denied him access to a lawyer in addition to making the accusation against him about an al-Qaida link.

Meshal's suit says that a consular affairs official from the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi met with Meshal and was aware of his detention.

In Ethiopia, U.S. officials subjected him to harsh interrogations while denying him access to a lawyer, his family or anyone else, the lawsuit adds. He was released in May 2007 with no explanation.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit on behalf of Meshal, who is a U.S. citizen.