Meshal v. Higgenbotham
Amir Meshal, a U.S. citizen of Tinton Falls, N.J., was studying Islam in Mogadishu, Somalia, in December 2006 when hostilities broke out. With the airport disabled by bombing, Mr. Meshal fled to neighboring Kenya by boat, where he wandered in the forest for around three weeks seeking shelter and assistance before being arrested by a joint U.S.-Kenyan-Ethiopian task force. Following his arrest and detention in Kenya without access to an attorney or any process to contest his detention, Mr. Meshal was illegally rendered to Somalia and then to Ethiopia where he was imprisoned in secret for an additional 3 1/2 months. Mr. Meshal was detained for over a total of four months and interrogated over 30 times in three different countries by U.S. officials who threatened to harm him, denied him access to counsel and due process, and falsely accused him of receiving training from al-Qaeda, which Mr. Meshal consistently denied.
Mr. Meshal was finally returned home from Ethiopia on May 27, 2007, and was never charged with a crime.
In November 2009, the ACLU filed a lawsuit on behalf of Amir Meshal charging two agents of the FBI and two other U.S. government officials for their roles in subverting Mr. Meshal’s rights. The lawsuit brings claims under the Constitution and the Torture Victim Protection Act (TVPA). It alleges that the officials directed or authorized foreign officials, or acted in conspiracy with them, to detain Mr. Meshal without due process and to render him to Somalia and Ethiopia for further illegal detention. It also claims that two FBI agents threatened him with torture and disappearance in clear violation of his rights under the Constitution and TVPA.