Turkmen v. Ashcroft: Lawsuit by Mistreated Detainees

The case of Turkman v. Ashcroft should be getting more attention. It involves a class action lawsuit against many federal officials, including Attorney General John Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert Mueller, over the mistreatment of post-9/11 detainees in Brooklyn. The suit was filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights , a group promoting "creative lawyering for social justice." Here are the basics:

CCR filed a class-action lawsuit in United States District Court in Brooklyn against a wide range of defendants including Attorney General John Ashcroft and FBI director Robert Mueller, over the imprisonment and harsh treatment of the non-citizen immigrants jailed after the Sept. 11 attacks. The lawsuit alleges violations of the U.S. Constitution and international human rights and treaty law. The suit charges that the U.S. government used ethnic and religious profiling with respect to the round-up and detention of hundreds of people.

Plaintiffs are muslim from Pakistan and Turkey. Although the government never asserted that there was evidence that any of the plaintiffs had links to terrorist groups and never charged them with commission of any crime, they were detained for over six months in tiny, windowless cells and were beaten and abused, solely because of their country of origin and their faith. Despite the fact that the plaintiffs were neither accused nor convicted of any criminal offense, they have nonetheless been subject to the severest degrading conditions, including being subjected to body cavity strip-searches and manacled and shackled whenever they were taken from their cells. The suit alleges that the government made efforts to keep the plaintiffs from being able to practice their religion during their detention.

After the suit was filed, the Inspector General released its 198 page report on the treatment and mistreatment of the detainees in area prisons. The CCR has amended it's complaint, and the Justice Department is putting up a fight.

Chisum Lee, of the Village Voice, has the latest details and thinks this this case could bring Ashcroft's day of reckoning.

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