On November 10, 2009, a Muslim American citizen who was detained and tortured while traveling abroad filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia under Bivens and the Torture Victim Protection Act of 1991, 28 U.S.C. § 1350, against supervising agents and two unknown ...
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On November 10, 2009, a Muslim American citizen who was detained and tortured while traveling abroad filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia under Bivens and the Torture Victim Protection Act of 1991, 28 U.S.C. § 1350, against supervising agents and two unknown agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The plaintiff, represented by the ACLU and a human rights clinic at the Yale Law School, asked the court for compensatory damages, punitive damages, and other relief as necessary, claiming that he had been deprived of his Constitutional rights under the Fourth and Fifth Amendments. Specifically, the plaintiff claimed that while he was travelling in the Horn of Africa, he was detained, interrogated, and tortured at the direction of and by officials in the American government. After four months of mistreatment, he was returned home to New Jersey. He was never charged with a crime.
The federal government moved to dismiss the case, alleging that even if the plaintiff's allegations are true, he has no right to hold federal officials personally liable for their roles in his detention by foreign governments on foreign soil. On May 10, 2010, the plaintiff filed an amended complaint. On March 6, 2012, the plaintiff filed a second amended complaint. The defendants renewed their motion to dismiss against this second amended complaint.
On June 13, 2014, Judge Emmet G. Sullivan granted the defendants' motion to dismiss. Judge Sullivan wrote that the facts alleged in this case and the legal questions presented were deeply troubling. Nevertheless, Judge Sullivan wrote that the court was constrained by precedent that expressly rejected a Bivens remedy for citizens who allege that they have been mistreated, and even tortured, by the United States of America in the name of intelligence gathering, national security, or military affairs. Meshal v. Higgenbotham, 1:09-2178 (EGS), 2014 WL 2648032 (D.D.C. June 13, 2014)Jessica Kincaid - 06/16/2014